California Deafblind Services
Gloria: Successful Collaboration Between Parents and Professionals02/05/2010 15:23
I recently had the opportunity to conduct a training session for special education teachers and administrators on working collaboratively with the families of children with special needs, specifically children with multiple disabilities, including deaf-blindness.
One of the main goals of this training session was discussing the critical importance of creating respectful alliances with families in order to better serve our students.
For this training I invited parents to talk about their experiences from their very unique perspectives. One of these parents who came to talk to us had kept a diary about her son with special needs since he was born, and he is now twenty-years old.
She shared the diary with me because I had been her son’s teacher many years back. After reading it, I asked her if I could share her diary with the participants of this training. She agreed and when she came to talk to us, the participants had already read it and had several questions for her in regards to the information she had written in it.
At the end of her presentation she said she had a pressing question to all of us about something that was happening with her son now that he had transitioned out of the school system, and she felt she was at dead end.
In these parent-professional exchanges, several things happened that are worth pointing out:
Her story brought us back to what is real: the struggles, the successes, the pain, the happiness, the challenges that these families go through.
It reminded us that we are working with people who are facing deep challenges and who need to be treated with respect and empathy.
It brought to us a perspective that it is not our own, which is critical if we want to do a good job.
In a nutshell, it grounded us.
When she asked her question to us, it was a tough and complex question. None of us with our experience and knowledge could answer it right away. There was a long silence, until someone broke the ice by asking a clarifying question. From the professional contribution it is worth to point out the following:
The answer was collective. It started by someone asking a question, another person saying something that was not exactly the answer, but with an intent to move towards the answer. Finally, two or three people came up with ideas that the parent thought could help her, her son and her family.
It was very interesting to analyze, after the fact, how the collective contribution in the quest for solutions to complex situations was so critical
The professionals brought an “outside perspective” of people who are outside of the challenge, and who have a wealth of experiences they had had with other students and families.
In conclusion, the final analysis found that this successful collaboration between parent and professionals happened because the parent and the professionals were respectful, and open to share and listen to each other.
* * *
Topic: Gloria: Successful Collaboration Between Parents and Professionals
Subject: Parent & Professionals
Subject: Re: Parent & Professionals
Subject: Parents & Professionals