Stephen R. Covey says “synergy” happens when respectful people collaborate and produce creative solutions that are much better than any of them would have proposed individually. He goes on to say that when you get into synergistic communication, you understand basic underlying needs and interests of all involved and you can find solutions to satisfy everyone.
I believe synergistic communication is an important part of developing a useful Individual Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan. If you want your child’s plan to be implemented, you must prepare it in a collaborative way by considering the benefits for your child and the benefits for the teacher. For example, the ADHD child who is struggling to remember all the steps in division benefits from using a checklist or other similar reminder of all the steps in this procedure: she can actually learn the task more efficiently and effectively with this scaffolding tool. But wait, it gets even better: her teacher also benefits because the child is not interrupting the teacher and the rest of the class by asking, “What’s the next step?” every few minutes. When you find an accommodation benefits everyone, then you improve the odds of it being implemented.
Try these seven steps to prepare for your meeting with your child’s principal and educators:
- Make a spreadsheet with these column headings: Problem, Possible Solutions, Benefit to Child, Benefit to Teacher, Best Solution (or use the attached Education Planner).
- To identify current problems, go through your child’s most recent graded papers and notes from school.
- For each problem, consider solutions suggested by reputable websites or books recommended in the resources section of this website (be sure to make note of where you got the suggestion so you can refer to this information during your meeting).
- Write down how each solution benefits your child.
- Next, write down how each solution benefits your child’s teacher and the other children in the classroom.
- Be ready to present these options during your meeting: in a collaborative, synergistic atmosphere, you and your child’s educators work together to consider which option is most helpful for everyone involved.
- Be open to other options: your child’s educators will likely have other ideas based on what they have seen work before.
By collaborating in this way, you make sure everyone is aware of the benefits to your child, the benefits other children in the classroom, and the benefits to the teacher: you ensure a “win-win” situation for everyone involved, and you improve the odds of your child’s teacher implementing the education plan. Try it!
© 2010, flexiture, monte w. davenport, ph.d.