One of my best friends said something that stuck with me once, “communication is the key and without communication we are locked out”, and truer words have never been spoken. Communication is so important and so necessary when it comes to being able to collaborate with your IEP team.
Have you ever been called about a behavior that has been occurring for weeks or days and you are wondering where the communication was about that behavior? Did a report come home detailing behavior that had been occurring over a certain amount of time but you had thought the behavior had decreased or stopped? Is a child suddenly displaying behavior in the classroom setting that they weren’t previously displaying but there is no communication to discuss what could be causing it? All these things can be discussed and communicated so lets discussed:
5 things that are necessary to do when your child has a Behavior Plan, 504, or IEP:
1. How - How do you prefer to communicate?
- Do you prefer emails, phone calls, remind texts, a behavior log?
- How do you want to know about their daily succes and growth?
2. Ask – Ask your child’s team members how they prefer to communicate?
- The gen ed teacher may want to communicate via remind app and behavior log, the special ed teacher may want to communicate via phone call and email. What is their preferred means?
3. Document – Document ALL communication
- Document all meetings and phone calls via follow up emails, that way you can confirm what was stated and allow for confirmation or correction to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- I also like to have the notifications and electronic copies of the documents (IEP/504) via email, as well as the paper copy to keep track of and refer too.
4. Log – Log all communication in a Log
- Log all documentation, emails, phone calls, remind messages, because these can be useful when addressing concerns and the communication that occurred as a result.
5. Request – Request can be made at any time
- Remember you can request a meeting at any time
- You can request data on interventions at any time
- You can request changes and updates to the document at any time
**It will take time to implement but you can request that
Communication begets collaboration and collaboration is necessary for a successful team effort to help a child. By definition, collaboration is the action of working with someone(s) to produce or create something. To successfully create a functioning IEP/504/BIP team must work together.
So, here are 3 tips to practice collaboration:
1. Strategic Communication
- Communicating intentionally and effectively is necessary, how are ya'll communicating, are you communicating, and what is being communicated?
2. Accepting Differences and Allowing Creativity
- Creativity breeds change and innovation and remember every child is different and so a technique that works for one may not work for another, so allow discussion about different tools and techniques to try. It's okay to buck the status quo.
3. Maintaining a positive outlook
- Positivity breeds optimism which breeds change. If you don't think that things can change, they won't because they can't. We have to be hopeful because when we are hopeful then we continue to search for strategies and interventions until we find the right one
Are you and your team collaborating? If not, what would you like to see? If so, what helped you successfully collaborate? Are you and your team communicating? If not, what would you like to see? If so, what helped you successfully communicate?
IEP - Individualized Education Program
BIP - Behavior Intervention Plan