We’re All Human
POSTED ON: April 20, 2022
One of the best things we can do as members of special education teams (parents included) is to remember that we are all human. What we see from an outsider’s perspective is just a fraction of what is going on in someone’s life.
Imagine you are a staff member at a public school. You got to school early before your contracted hours to prep materials for the day. You had a full day of students. You covered someone’s lunch duty during your prep time. You finished bus duty just as your meeting begins, all while making sure all paperwork is completed and accounted for prior to the meeting. You then conduct the meeting, follow up on paperwork, then go home and take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Or, you are a parent. You got up early to get the kids to school. You went to work. You had to make arrangements to leave work early to drive back to school for your child’s IEP meeting. You attended a meeting where you had to discuss your child’s struggles. You had to make legal decisions and agreements with the team. After the meeting, you had to take the kids to soccer and dance and then make sure everyone was fed dinner.
I feel exhausted just reading that, nevertheless experiencing it.
One of the greatest, and most frustrating things, about being human is that we are all flawed and we all make mistakes-nobody is perfect. For a staff member, this can present as writing the meeting date incorrectly, a typo in a report, running late to a meeting, or forgetting to print the signature pages before a meeting. For a parent, they might forget to attend a meeting, not bring the developmental history form that they left sitting on the counter, or miss an important email from the teacher.
We all experience a full range of emotions which sometimes others take personally when those emotions are displayed in their presence. Staff and parents alike may feel like they’re being judged for not doing their job right or for making a mistake. These emotions can show up in IEP meetings-even though they weren’t on the official meeting notice (case managers will get the joke).
Giving grace and remembering that school staff is more than just their job label or that a parent is more than just a student’s mom or dad promotes healthy team dynamics. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and considering where they’re coming from–empathy–will go a long way toward achieving your common goal of student success when working with your team. Doing so ultimately supports holding each other accountable for reaching those goals.
Always advocate for your child or student, asking questions from a place of curiosity, rather than judgment to help create balance between being understanding and holding each other accountable. We are all on the same team, with the same goal and simply considering more than what we see can make all the difference between a child’s success or struggle.