|photo from WI DNR|
This week I accompanied a parent to a meeting with a couple educators. The purpose was to clarify some questions the parent thought of after her child's IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting the prior day. She was pretty distressed about several things so we wanted to make sure she understood all her options. It was set up quickly because the educator who set the meeting up did not want this Mom to have to wait until Monday or Tuesday to have her concerns addressed. The meeting went well. As we were wrapping up we were chatting about the opening weekend of deer hunting season. I live in a rural area of northern Wisconsin. Saying opening weekend of deer gun season is a big deal up here completely understates it. One of the educators said she was a hunter and it was traditional for the hunters among the staff to wear some blaze orange on the Friday before opening day. She said she had taken some good natured ribbing because she had not done that this year. The reason? She knew the parent was struggling with how the first meeting went and she wanted to convey to the parent that she respected her feelings. It may seem like a small thing but I could tell the parent appreciated the gesture.
As I was driving home I mulled over the events prior and during the meeting. In my experience it's not uncommon for parents to attend an IEP meeting and become upset a few hours later. Parents can be overwhelmed facing a group of educators and specialists. They often perceive everything has been decided before the meeting and their opinion is not important. "IEP The Movie" gives excellent vignettes on how a meeting shouldn't go, followed by how it should. Meetings are a good opportunity for both parents and teachers to build stronger relationships which enables them to do a better job supporting students. Sometimes a subtle sacrifice like forgoing blaze orange garb on the one day of the year it's acceptable attire for school helps set the tone for a successful meeting but that probably is only effective in the northwoods.