Tuesday, June 2, 2009


faith and communication

It used to be that parents just took the school's word for it. I still want to. I still want to believe that what is reported to me about my child's performance is true and accurate. Things are just not that simple anymore; and perhaps they never were.

In the public system, the teachers, the paraprofessionals, the case managers, and the service providers are all overwhelmed. I have lost belief that they are able to communicate effectively but I don't think its on purpose; its not even close.

I think I have a unique perspective on things. I am a parent of two children with developmental disabilities. I co-own a pediatric OT practice that primarily services school districts. I see this from a parent level, I see what the staff here go through to get their work done well, and I talk every day to at least one administrator who, believe it or not, is as frustrated as I am. I think sometimes the administrators in these school districts are viewed as evil. It really isn't true. Some of them are better at being diplomatic than others, but all of them are charged with a very difficult job.

It takes more time to communicate effectively than we allow ourselves. Its not the SPED directors that are evil, it's ineffective communication. In an attempt to teach myself about how my communication style is perceived, I attended two seminars done by Working in Sync International (http://www.workinginsync.com).

Email is easily misinterpreted. Almost no one answers their phone (including me:(). How do we do this better? How do we best use the time we have, realistically, to get our messages across? From my perspective, most of us are on the same team: that of our students, that of our kids.

How do you do it?

Allison Bembe, my wonderful practice partner, has the patience of a saint. I have affectionately labeled her, "The Great Compromiser". I could tell a number of stories about why I labeled her this, but I mention it for a more important reason. Allison works patiently with her students, with her staff, and with her team members to build bridges between opposites. Her ability to maintain her patience is paramount but, more importantly, its her faith in the good intentions of people that keeps her motivated.

The message I want to send is to be patient with others. Don't assume the worst. Have faith. Be sure you are taking responsiblity for being a good communicator.


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