What is the essence of pirates from days gone by? Pirates are characters of childhood tales and fantasy that many of us looked up to and admired. They are adventurers who possess strong personality and charisma. They see what they want, and they take it. They set sail upon a world of infinite opportunity exploring and and traveling toward a destination. The pirate is an adventurer who takes action. The pirate is charismatic and cunning The pirate is a free and independent thinker The pirate is bold, brave, and makes decisions involving extreme degrees of risk at times. The pirate is not afraid of mistakes, nor do they dwell on them. They are nothing less than a learning opportunity. Pirates see opportunities EVERYWHERE. (credit: RSanders219 @ http://sosuave.net/forum/showthread.php?t=184286)
School has started and for many families this is a HIGH stress time. If you are an exceptional father with an exceptional child who has an Individual Education Plan (IEP) it can be the beginning of a gut wrenching roller coaster. Parents are encouraged to be activie participants in the education of their child, yet in some cases that is especially difficult due to the variety of educational needs of their child with special needs, whether they be diagnosed with Attention Deficit, Autism, Emotional Disabilities, Learning Disabilities, etc. Planning and Placement Team meetings (PPT) should be a part of the beginning of the school year so in the coming month you are reiterating what was said in the spring. Are you in the process of discussing your child’s progress and expectations over the course of this school year. There are many approaches and emotions in these meetings. The points about pirates I left out from above – all those characteristics are aimed at improving the pirate’s current state. Your job is to focus on the child being discussed while looking for opportunities to successfully support your child’s educational program.
A successful program has a leader, a strong team supporting the goals and objectives, a navigator who carefully watches for changes that will keep the child from the goal and compensates, and yes even a sergeant at arms to encourage the disgruntled to walk the plank. When you go to your child’s PPT focus on your child with essence of a pirate. Your child’s academic program is a long journey requiring a team that can work together. Remember, not all pirates fought their way through their careers, some were traders. Decide what you are willing to “trade” in order to get the best program possible for your child. Schools are not in a position to give you everything you want just because you have a big cannon. Work together and watch the pirate’s chest you have invested in your child grow. Focus on the fact that everyone at the table has invested in your child. Those who are caught stealing from that chest can be directed to the seargent at arms!
When you go to the PPT as an administrator, teacher, or support staff focus on the child with the essence of a pirate. The parents are recruiting a team of motivated, smart, and strong crew mates who have the same goal. Just because you come to the meeting with experience with other children and a title you earned in a classroom does not mean you are automatically captain of the ship. In fact, there is a Disney song with the line, “The kid they once called Stowaway, is the man they now call CAPTAIN!” (credit: http://captainbook.org/cbblog/?p=345) A leader will rise and lead the crew, find your role and make sure the family is welcomed to the table and are not made to feel like a stowaway. Maybe they are asking for something and it is easier to just say no. Maybe they just don’t know how to ask the right way or work within your current economic situation. An example is summer when your families want ESY. You know you can’t pay for, or offer, a great program outside of school because transportation is so expensive – even though you know it would benefit the child. How about after school programming? Is your child all set with time with typical peers doing typical activities?
Parents don’t understand that and only hear the “NO”. Some parents would help pay, some would transport their child if the district paid, and some might even transport if the district paid mileage. So a $375 program only costs $500 versus the $1000/week due to transportation. The most skilled pirate crews negotiate treacherous waters and come out of it a stronger team. Iron-fisted pirates often visit Davey Jones locker due to poor judgement and mutinies among the crew. Trust me I have been on those ships. A fellow pirate once taught me that it is also helpful to bring some food and grog to the table to encourage more good spirits and listening among the crew. Effective leaders listen, isn’t that what we teach our children? Coffee and donuts could be a good substitute! Your PPT and child deserves the bounty. Be a pirate and successfully negotiate the seven seas this year, everyone will be better off in the end. Share your tales of triumph through teamwork and open communication, that is how the map was written for a successful PPT. “X” marks the spot.
Yo! Ho! Ho! It is PPT season a time to go forth with a loud, “Arrrgh!” Share your tales for future pirates, some will be tales of woe and some will be stories for the ages. Most importantly they all will come together and help that first mate out there with a new born who has not yet discovered the treacherous waters encountered in the sea of special education!
Image Credit: Brethren of the Coast