I want to share a story told to me by a special education director who was a friend of mine. This happened a few years back.
She said it was the IEP time of year and she got a call from a school principal who provided the details of a recent IEP meeting that did not go well. The parents and educators could not come to agreement on what the child needed. They were at an impasse, and they had just agreed to set up a second meeting. My friend was asked if she would attend the upcoming IEP team meeting, and she agreed. Several weeks later, my friend walked into the room at the school where the IEP meeting was to be held. She said she could sense the tension in the room. The Mom and Dad sat on one side of a table, and school personnel on the other. After introductions and a brief review of what had lead to this meeting, my friend asked the parents, “What do you want for your daughter?” The Mom and Dad sat back a bit, glanced down, and the father started to speak. He outlined his dreams for his daughter to read and write, to manage money, to stay with her friends in her own school. He shared that he hoped one day his daughter would have a job, live on her own, be part of a community with friends, living a happy and good life. Everyone listened to the Dad and watched the Mom and she nodded in agreement. The room became quiet and still.
When the Father was done, my friend, the special education director, looked around at those present and said, “What do you need to make this happen?” One by one, team members started to talk. The child’s teacher said she would need a smaller class size and some extra hands in the classroom, and maybe some training. The school administrator was concerned that his school did not have appropriate resource staff, like other schools did. One by one, the group outlined concerns and brainstormed ideas and solutions. The parents listened to the school’s concerns and offered their help and support. My friend noted that once the group had seen a vision for the student’s future, they moved past their areas of disagreement to look at what it would take to work together toward a vision of a positive and possible future for this child. I love this story!!