Posted by Angie Balsley on 4/17/2020 7:00:00 AM
“The most effective IEPs are written collaboratively by team members who trust and support one another during the process. Although many members comprise an IEP team, the parent and the teacher are arguably the most important members. After all, they know the child the best. If they can work together, parents and teachers can be a powerful force in advocating for a child” (Special Education Guide).
To work together, teachers and parents must develop and maintain a relationship. Throughout my articles this year, I’ve been attempting to illustrate the perspectives of both parents and teachers. My reason for doing this was to enhance understanding as a way to foster the critical relationships between parents and teachers. To wrap up this series, I want to share one more way for parents and educators to build their relationships and that is to foster connection and trust.
According to Brene Brown, empathy fuels connection. In this beautifully animated two minute clip, Brene Brown explains that one of the things we do sometimes in the face of difficult conversations is that we try to make things better. Brene believes that rather than try to immediately make a difficult situation better or solve a complicated problem, it can be more effective to reply “I don’t even know what to say right now, but I’m glad that you shared that with me.” Brene explains that rarely can a response make a difficult situation better, but what can make something better is connection.
To foster connection, we must pay attention to what is happening in the conversation, to the feelings that are being brought up, and the body language of ourselves and those around us. During these moments, Brene encourages us to engage, stay curious, and stay connected. She also shared a strategy that I believe that we all need to embrace and that is to let go of the fear of saying the wrong thing. Instead we can be open and respond with a statement like “I know this is a struggle and you are not alone.” When we admit that we don’t have an immediate answer, but we’re willing to help figure it out, we build trust with others and trust is the foundation of the type of effective relationship teachers and parents must have to work together for the benefit of the child.
Brown, B. (2018). Dare to lead. New York: Random House.
Dr. Angie Balsley, Executive Director