It is really important to get to know the parents we work with. When I started in my new position as a special education director over 4 years ago, I knew how important it was to me to get to know the students, but more importantly their parents too.
These are the people who you have to build your trust with and help them make decisions about their child. Sometimes those decisions are very difficult to hear and understand. So I started by reading their IEP’s, which helped but, most importantly getting into the classrooms and specialized programs to see and learn about their children.
A follow-up call with something you learned about their child do goes along way. Periodic home visits helped to give me perspective of where the parent and child is coming from.
So I feel I have started to build relationships with many of the parents and when I call them or they call me I can have a better understanding how the conversation will go.
- Some that were challenging at first have started to make progress toward understanding and building a relationship in a positive way. They don’t want to fight anymore.
- Some parents will call when they need something, for their child ( clothes, shoes, even eye glasses).
- Some will call because they are anxious and worried about their child moving on to high school and making sure there is a program for them.
- Some will call about simple advice about their child.
- Some have even called to help them find an apartment so they could stay in the district.
Yes, I still do get some of those more difficult calls, but they get easier each time especially when you can re-frame the conversation with the parent.
All of this takes time and understanding, but it is worth it in the long-run to build a trusting relationship.