How to Turn Your Child's Teacher Into Your Child's Advocate
(Especially During an IEP Meeting)
The execution of an Individual Education Program (IEP) is the responsibility of your child's teacher and support staff, so having a teacher who advocates for your kid is a big deal. A teacher who has your back and looks out for your child can make a world of difference when dealing with the administration. Turning your child's teacher into your teammate has less to do with what you say and more to do with how you say it. However, there are some key talking points that will help you win support.
Begin With Friendly Small Talk to Humanize Your Child
When you show up to an IEP meeting, keep your notes tucked away for a few minutes. Winning over your teacher as an advocate begins with humanizing your family and ultimately your child. Talk about how your child is doing at home, their favorite activities or any praise your child has given the teacher at the end of the day. Starting on the right foot is key to developing a good relationship. Though you may be coming in with strong ideas or frustration, try to kick off your meeting with friendly chatter so the teacher isn't defensive.
Put the Teacher in Your Shoes
One of the most powerful questions you can ask a teacher is "If this was your child, what would you do?" Put the teacher in your shoes as often as you can. This is not only a strategy for getting an honest answer, but it will connect the teacher to your child and can make them more likely to advocate.
Show Appreciation as You Suggest Compromise
Teachers who feel appreciated may be more likely to step up for your child. As parents, you often have a different idea of what the IEP should be than what the administration is implementing. Showing appreciation for what the teacher is doing right as opposed to what you don't like, however, shifts the conversation to a more productive place. Even as you ask the teacher to make concessions or change the IEP, always offer thanks where it's due.
Turning your teacher into an advocate in an IEP meeting is one of the best ways to get help for a student who struggles. Whether your child has social issues, behavioral issues or learning challenges, connecting with the teacher fosters positive results.