Welcome everyone to the special education inner circle podcast. I'm excited to be here with you today. We're going to dig on a hot topic for both special education teachers and parents. Actually for everybody who's at the IEP table. In fact, as I was preparing for this hot topic, I opened up my Facebook and I'm scrolling through it and I see almost within the first three posts, I see a story about a man with autism who couldn't get a job. So he opened up his own coffee shop. That is exactly the type of story that we're going to be talking about today and how teachers and parents in the special education system, you are smarter than the system itself and you have to start working together to make things happen. So here's, here's the scoop. Let's just kind of step back just for a minute and talk about how special education is only 44 years old, which in some ways that is a baby.
That is just a little start to what we can do in special education. In fact, when I became a teacher many, many, many years ago, my first boss was the beginning of special education. Meaning she was a teacher when special education started in the 1970s and then I became a teacher in the 1990s. So I learned from the original special education teachers who quite honestly, they didn't know what they were doing. And that's okay. We're not faulting them for that. But the truth is, I got a lot of no's as a teacher. I was asking - Can I do this? Can I do that? And I was hearing no a lot. Now being a special needs sibling, I didn't accept the no, which means that I was teaching by day and was coaching parents by night. And that's how I ended up here working with parents and teachers and creating better IEPs.
So all right, so here we are. We're now, we're in this next generation of teachers. And quite honestly it's people my age that are now the administrators in special education. We grew up with the no's in the beginning of our career. And now a lot of times we're giving the no's, but it doesn't have to be that way.
You know, there's a big argument a lot of the time about who knows the child better. You know teachers have an area of expertise. Parents, you know, you know your child in a whole different way that nobody will ever know your child in that way. A lot of times there's this argument over what is best for a child. Or in our special education kind of terminology, we use the word appropriate. "What is appropriate for a child"? There's a lot of back and forth, but there's this sweet spot when you, meaning special education teachers and parents and therapists....
When you realize that when you work together, you can beat the system. You really can. See we're working in this archaic system that was built way before our reality. Today we are working with a system that has zero knowledge of the child or the student that you're working with. They have zero knowledge of what our resources are today. You're working on a set of laws that have given you a minimum of what should ethically be provided for a child to attend school and get an education. It's the minimum.
Now before you guys start thinking, I already have so much on my plate, how can you ask me to do more? I'm not going to ask you to do more. I'm going to ask you to do better. See, we're working under a foundation of a law that had no idea that something like Google was going to be here.
It was before email, before assisted communication in the way that we have it now, before data collection methods that we have now, before community living resources that we have now before online job opportunities, before smart homes. Do you know the independence that's going to come when we decide to use technology to its highest ability to help people with disabilities live more independently?
It's going to absolutely be amazing, but what you have to do is you're going to have to step back before you go to that next IEP meeting. You're going to have to step back and say, not what can we do more of? It's what can we do better? What expertise is at the table that you're not using? What resources are you not using? What do you need to take out of the IEP that is based on 1970s and 80s and 90s education.
Before there was Google and email and the internet in resources and smartphones and all of these things that we have, what needs to come out of the special education plan. So you, the teacher and you, the parent can bring together your expertise and yes, provide an appropriate education. Provide that education to meet a child's unique needs. Focus on preparing a child for further education, employment, independent living.
And for those of you that don't know, that's the purpose and findings of IDEA law. Remember, I'm not a lawyer. I'm telling you where to look in the purpose and findings of IDEA law, which is the law that is governing special education and it has been forever. It says that a child is entitled to a free and appropriate public education, to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, independent living, but we're stuck at the IEP table looking at this archaic system that is not providing the expert level of education that a child needs.
When a parent and a teacher, when you both sit together and you figure out what can come out of an IEP, you start to look at the resources that we have. Now, you know, this is not about limiting to the law. That lawmaker who created this foundation of how to write a goal, that created this foundation of what should be provided, that created this foundation of when transition planning is supposed to happen at age 14, they don't know your child. They don't know your students. They have no idea. This law that was written so many years ago was written by a bunch of people sitting in a room that yes, they brought in experts, but they don't know what's happening today.
You know what's happening today. You know what the future can hold. You know what your resources are. So yeah, provide that minimum to the fullest extent, but stop arguing over the minimum and start working together on providing a brand new education.
You don't need the lotta change to provide a child with a brand new education. So I challenge you. What are you going to do better at the IEP meeting? What are you going to do better in your classroom. As parents, what are you going to do better in communicating what your child really needs for the future? So you're not worried about these standards that were set in the 70s but you're looking forward.
Let's go back to this story where, I opened up my Facebook and I have this man with autism who created his own coffee shop because he couldn't get a job. That is not going to be the exception to the rule. That is our future.
How are we setting our special needs families up for success? Because again, we are not limited to nine to five. We are not limited to government funded programs.
We are not limited the way that we were 20 years ago. There are unlimited possibilities, but you have to make the decision to let go of the past that is holding back a child's education. That is holding back the possibilities for this child to create this whole new independent lifestyle and you need to decide what are you going to do better together.
I can't wait to hear from you about what decisions you're going to make better at the IEP table and if you have any questions on how to make this happen or do you want to be the person that not only makes it happen in your classroom or for your own family, but you want to help others make this happen. That's exactly what we're doing inside of the Master IEP Coach Mentorship. I invite you to come and join us www.masteriepcoach.com All right everybody, I'll see you soon.
If you sit at an IEP table, this checklist is for you! Parents, teachers, therapists and support team members... you can all use this tool for your next IEP meeting!