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What Parents Wish Special Education Teachers Knew


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Every time I walk into the room to lead a Parent IEP workshop I have brightly colored index cards or sticky notes in my hand. I pass them out and ask every parent to tell me... "What's one thing you wish your child's teacher knew?"

The results of that question are valuable insights into what parents REALLY want from the school system and often they are focused on the importance of communication, trust, and accountability in the IEP process. As a parent or educator, you know how crucial these elements are in ensuring a successful IEP outcome.

On this episode, I share with you 3 answers I collected at a recent Parent IEP Workshop: 

Parent One: They express the need for more frequent breaks and rest time for their child, as they believe it could greatly improve their child's performance in school. This raises questions about the availability of data on the child's current breaks and rest time. 

Parent Two: They emphasize the importance of proactive communication between home and school to prevent crises and build trust. Communication is key in any relationship, including the parent-school dynamic. Trust and open communication are strong pillars of a successful parent-school partnership.

Parent Three:  Their child has Down syndrome, and they stress the importance of understanding that each child with a diagnosis is unique and learns differently. The parent also highlights the significance of receiving good feedback as much as bad feedback, as it contributes to building trust and accountability in the parent-school relationship. It's a reminder that feedback should be constructive and balanced, and it's a crucial aspect of fostering a positive and collaborative environment.


Episode Notes:  

  • (01:00) Hey there! So, I'm super excited because I just finished recording a new lesson for the Master IEP Coach Certificate. Inside this certificate, you can create your very own Master IEP Coach Toolbox to use at your IEP meetings. And in today's lesson, I talked all about checklists - essential ones that cover everything from inclusion to parent input to writing real-world IEP goals. These checklists are not based on theory, but on my 20 years of experience helping parents and working with schools to build IEPs that actually work in the real world. Build Your Own Master IEP Coach® Toolbox Here

  • (01:53) So, one of the parents in my workshop shared that they wish their child's teachers knew that their child needs more frequent breaks and time to rest. Now, you might be thinking, "Well, why didn't the parent just tell the teacher?" But there could be a breakdown in communication. Maybe the parent doesn't know how many breaks their child is getting or there's no data being taken on the type of breaks happening during the day. Without concrete evidence, we can't be sure if the child is actually getting the breaks they need to perform better in school and reach their goals. This concern opens up conversations among the IEP team about what is happening and what needs to happen to support the child.

    Another parent shared that they wish teachers understood the importance of communication before a major breakdown happens. They don't want to wait until a crisis to start communicating regularly. It makes sense, right? This can definitely be addressed in the IEP. I often talk about how communication builds trust and accountability in my Master IEP Coach programs. If you're a parent feeling this way, you can absolutely set up proactive communication between home and school to avoid crises. Need help setting up a home to school communication plan? Go Here

  • (04:46) Just because a child has a medical diagnosis, doesn't mean they are the same as other children with that diagnosis. Example: Children with Down syndrome have unique needs and should not be generalized based on their diagnosis. It's crucial for educators to understand that every child learns differently, and we must communicate this to parents effectively. Home-to-school communication plans should go beyond just reporting basic information, but also celebrate small wins, build trust, and promote accountability.

    As an educator, it's important to express to parents that you understand and appreciate their child's unique learning style. We should share updates regularly and not just focus on the challenges, but also highlight the positive moments. It's essential to use the IEP paperwork as a tool for customization, so parents feel involved in their child's education and trust the process.

    Parents, avoid making assumptions and instead ask questions to gain a deeper understanding of your child's experiences at school. For example, a child appearing tired or disengaged may not necessarily mean they are not getting enough breaks. It could be that the breaks are at the wrong time or not the right type for that child.

  • Asking for help can feel tough, but googling IEP strategies until 3am and struggling to make IEP decisions is even tougher! Find IEP help or become an IEP expert to help others, here. 

Links Mentioned In This Episode:

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