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Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities

Parents and Professionals Partnering for Children With Disabilities
A Dance That Matters

  • Janice M. Fialka - Dance of Partnership
  • Arlene K. Feldman - Educational Consultant, Adjunct, SUNY, New Paltz, Retired Director of Special Education, Valley Central School District, Montgomery, NY
  • Karen C. Mikus - Clinical Psychologist

Foreword by Ann P. Turnbull

April 2012 | 176 pages | Corwin

Cultivate effective partnerships between parents and professionals through honest, respectful and skillful communication

The authors draw upon the metaphor of "dance" to better understand the complexities and possibilities of forming partnerships between educators, administrators, early childhood providers, therapists, support staff, other professionals, and parents of children with disabilities. This revised edition of Do You Hear What I Hear? Parents and Professionals Working Together for Children With Special Needs is rich with stories, examples, and practical insights. This book, written from both the parent's and the professional's points of view, provides a developmental approach to understanding and forging positive adult relationships, while also providing concrete ways to advocate for children. The authors' years of experience as successful consultants, trainers, and educators lends this helpful resource a deep sense of realism and compassion. They remind the reader of how essential the parent-professional partnership is—and why it IS a dance that matters.

Key features include:

  • Practical insights and evidence-based approaches to forming partnerships
  • Easy-to-read, non-technical language that speaks to both the heart and the mind 
  • Sample letters and other forms of communication shared between professionals and parents 
  • Stories and examples of real-world conversations between parents and professionals
  • Effective ways to handle difficult situations

Rich with humor and heart, this highly readable book offers helpful steps for self reflection, personnel preparation, and parent-professional training. Educators and parents will find expert guidance for listening to each other's music, trying out each other's dance steps, and working toward a new dance that includes contributions from all—with the ultimate reward of seeing children achieve their highest potential.

Flip to page 7 for a review of the book in the Family Matter @ School Newsletter!

Foreword by Ann P. Turnbull
About the Authors
1. The Dance Toward Partnership: Using the Dance Metaphor to Understand Parent-Professional Partnerships
How the Dance Begins

Phases of the Partnership Dance

More Resources

2. Listening to the Hidden Lyrics: Tuning in to Your Partner
The Story of Sam

The Story of Rachel

More Resources

3. The Dance Manual: Essential Steps to Keep on Dancing
For Parents: Essential Steps

For Professionals: Essential Steps

More Resources

4. When the Dance Is Complicated
A Complicated Dance: When Parents Appear Angry

A Few Other Points to Consider When Parents Seem to be Uninvolved or Are Absent

Concluding Thoughts: We Are All People First

More Resources

5. Enhancing the Dance: Partnership Notes
Practical Suggestions for Professionals

Partnership Notes

More Resources

A Dance That Matters
Resources for Families and Professionals
References and Selected Readings

“I love this book. It helps people to truly walk in someone else’s footprints. This guide will show beginning teachers and other professionals how to build successful relationships with their students' parents.” 

Natalie Marston, Principal
Anne Arundel County Public Schools, Edgewater, Maryland

"If parents and professionals could wear out their shoes by dancing the way Fialka, Feldman, and Mikus describe it in this book, the shoes would indeed be worth pressing against one’s heart. Through stories, the authors expertly choreograph the steps families, professionals, and the children must take to foster this essential relationship—like a waltz: one, two, three."

Robin McWilliam, Director, Center for Child and Family Research
Siskin Children’s Institute, Chattanooga, TN

"This book beautifully reminds us that social change happens through listening, dialogue, and engagement. Beneath our roles as professionals and parents, these authors gently help us to remember that 'we are all people first,' and through empathy we can find ways to sidestep—or dance— around many of the missteps that lead to misunderstanding and conflict. This book is a wonderful resource for anyone trying to navigate the complexities of supporting and advocating for disabled students in inclusive classrooms."

Emma Van der Klift and Norman Kunc, Co- directors
Broadreach Training and Resources, British Columbia, Canada

“A mother who found her calling through fate or accident—and never looked away or glanced back—Janice Fialka is internationally renowned for her relentless, never-say-never advocacy. She and her coauthors offer hope and wisdom for parents who would see more clearly into the lives of their children—disabled or not—and for every professional who would engage them.”

Bill Ayers, Author, To Teach: The Journey of a Teacher and A Kind and Just Parent

“Rarely does a book hold such promise for promoting genuine partnerships between families of children with disabilities and the professionals who participate in their care. The real-life passages from the authors, seasoned parents, and experienced professionals infuse this work with unparalleled authenticity.”

Susan Addison, Special Educator, Retired
Chattanooga, TN

“The authors get right to the heart of parent-professional relationships. They deconstruct and reconstruct the difficult process of examining how parents and professionals communicate. The stories used to illustrate specific points are superb. We need this thoughtful and provoking perspective to encourage us to listen more closely to one another for the benefit our children.”

Martha E. Mock, Assistant Professor
University of Rochester

“This book accomplishes two impressive feats. First: it conveys, through information and examples, research-based practices for building family-professional partnerships. Second: the clear, storytelling style of writing makes it impossible to put down. This is a must for anyone whose responsibilities involve working with the families of children with disabilities.”

Pamela J. Winton, Senior Scientist and Director of Outreach
University of North Carolina FPG Child Development Institute

“The authors powerfully illustrate the ‘dance of partnership’ in complex and nuanced ways. They capture how things are in the real world of relationships between parents and professionals. The stories are moving, the perspectives insightful, and practical strategies and suggestions abound. I recommend this book as a superb source of guidance and support.”

Shari Saunders, Clinical Associate Professor
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

“This is a book written with a quality that is both honest and sensitive. The authors force us to put aside all other issues, reminding us what is real and essential in our pursuit of genuine student learning.”

Georgina M. Terrigno, Speech and Language Pathologist
Monroe Woodbury Central School District, Central Valley, NY

“Having attended many challenging problem-solving meetings, I know how important it is for families and professionals to keep open hearts and minds. This unique resource moves beyond the ‘how to’s’ of effective communication and reminds us of the values that are central to any great team—generosity, creativity, and a willingness to learn from one another.”

Paula Kluth, Consultant & Author, You’re Going to Love This Kid: Teaching Students with Autism in the Inclusive Classroom
Key features

  • An accessible, easy to read, and non-technical resource for family-centered practice and school-home collaboration.

  • Sample letters in Part 3 are tools which will help educators better express their thoughts and feelings to parents. Part 3 also offers great examples of the power of positive communication.

  • Because of the authors' empathy for the anxiety and uncertainty that educators, service professionals, and parents may have about their working relationship, readers of this guide will feel understood and validated.

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ISBN: 9781452283425

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