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Working With Challenging Parents of Students With Special Needs
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Working With Challenging Parents of Students With Special Needs



March 2004 | 192 pages | Corwin

"This practical guide will help avert obstacles and clear the way for a healthy and productive working relationship that will benefit the individuals who are at the center of the enterprise—the children!"
—Lawrence Balter, Professor
New York University

"This book should be used by every teacher. School districts should be providing professional development classes and higher education should be addressing the challenging components of teaching that Gorman addresses."
—Mary Ellen Somers, Teacher
Kingsley Junior High School Normal, IL

Intimidated by an angry parent? Frustrated by a non supportive parent? Hands-on, specific solutions are now available to help you!

Most teaching programs do not cover how to handle difficult parents, especially parents of children with special needs. This book fills that gap, focusing both on dealing with specific problems and cultivating strong relationships with parents. In specific settings such as IEP meetings and transitional plan meetings, you will learn how to understand the parents' perspective while arming yourself with methods to address their concerns and move beyond conflict to true collaboration.

The book's contents, grounded in research as well as real-life experiences, include chapters to help you

  • Generate alliances—not lawsuits—and examine such concepts as empathy, communication, and risk management
  • Deal with specific problems, such as parents who are angry, non-participatory, or plaintive
  • Work with groups with unique concerns, such as grandparents, foster parents, noncustodial parents, and homeless families
  • Cultivate and maintain good collaborative relationships with parents

The easy-to-use layout first presents research and discusses the reasons behind particular problems, followed by clear main strategies to solving the problems and actions to avoid. A summary and questions at the end of each chapter, as well as the included extensive forms, let you examine your specific professional situation.


 
Preface
 
Acknowledgements
 
About the Author
 
Dedication
 
1. Generating Alliances…not Lawsuits
Gaining Cooperation  
Developing Alliances  
Being Empathic  
Communicating Well  
Communicating Poorly  
Staying Out of Court  
Keeping Your Focus  
Reflecting on Your Teaching  
Summary  
 
2. Dealing with Anger
Entering The Conflict Stage  
Understanding Anger  
Being Aware of Cultural Differences in Anger  
Dealing with The Openly Angry Parent  
Dealing with The Parent Who Is Always Angry  
Dealing with The Narcissistic Parent  
Ensuring Your Safety  
Main Principles for Dealing with Anger  
Other Strategies for Dealing with Anger  
What to Avoid  
Dealing with Anger ... Yours  
Going Beyond Anger  
Reflecting on Your Teaching  
Summary  
 
3. Dealing with Denial
Understanding Denial  
Discriminating Between Denial and Defensiveness  
Dealing with Differences of Opinions  
Knowing When Denial is Harmful (and When It Is Not)  
Main Principles for Dealing with Denial  
Other Strategies for Dealing with Denial  
What to Avoid  
Going Beyond Denial  
Reflecting on Your Teaching  
Summary  
 
4. Dealing with Dissatisfaction
Recognizing the Context of Dissatisfaction  
Understanding Dissatisfaction  
Responding When Parents Reject the Individual Education Plan (IEP)  
Coping with the Consequences of Dissatisfaction  
Handling Mediation and Due Process Hearings  
Main Principles for Dealing with Dissatisfaction  
Other Strategies for Dealing with Dissatisfaction  
Working with Advocates  
What to Avoid  
Going Beyond Dissatisfaction  
Reflecting on Your Teaching  
Summary  
 
5. Dealing with Nonparticipation and Resistance
Sharing Teachers' Views  
Discerning Noninvolvement Versus Nonparticipation  
Understanding Nonparticipation  
Understanding Nonparticipation of Parents of Adolescents  
Being Sensitive to Concerns of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Parents  
Main Principles for Dealing with Nonparticipation and Resistance  
Suggestions for Increasing Parent Participation in Transition Planning  
Other Strategies for Dealing with Nonparticipation  
Other Strategies for Dealing with Resistance  
What to Avoid  
Going Beyond Nonparticipation and Resistance  
Reflecting on Your Teaching  
Summary  
 
6. Dealing with Mistrust
Recognizing The Value of Trust  
Understanding Mistrust  
Acknowledging Other Reasons for Parental Mistrust  
Agreeing on an Individual Transition Plan (ITP)  
Preventing Mistrust  
Main Principles for Dealing with Mistrust  
Other Strategies for Dealing with Mistrust  
What to Avoid  
Going Beyond Mistrust  
Reflecting on Your Teaching  
Summary  
 
7. Working with Nontraditional Families
Working with Grandparents  
Working with Noncustodial Parents  
Working with Foster Parents  
Working with Homeless Families  
Working with Families Where You Suspect Child Abuse or Neglect  
Reflecting on Your Teaching  
Summary  
 
8. Cultivating Collaborative Relationships
Resolving Your Reservations  
Applying Cultural Considerations  
Starting at the Beginning  
Maintaining the Relationship  
Passing the Torch  
Promoting a Family-Friendly School  
Being Realistic  
Reflecting on Your Teaching  
Summary  
 
References
 
Table 1.1 Effective Communication Skills
 
Table 1.2 Poor Communication Skills
 
Table 2.1 Safety Tips for Teachers Meeting with Parents
 
Resource A. Welcome Letter
 
Resource B. Communication Log
 
Resource C. Letter to Parents of Older Elementary Students
 
Resource D. Letter to Parents of Adolescents
 
Resource E. Parent Observation Sheet
 
Resource F. Back-to-School Letter
 
Resource G. Responsibilities of Team Members
 
Resource H. Intake Conference Letter
 
Resource I. Conference Summary Sheet
 
Resource J. Additional Resources
 
References
 
Index

This practical guide will help avert obstacles and clear the way for a healthy and productive working relationship that will benefit the individuals who are at the center of the enterprise—the children!

Lawrence Balter, Professor
New York University

This book should be used by every teacher. School districts should be providing professional development classes and higher education should be addressing the challenging components of teaching that Gorman addresses.

Mary Ellen Somers, NBCT
Kingsley Junior High School, Normal, IL
Key features
  • Key topics include: litigation, blame, denial, minority overrepresentation, adaptive technologies, and nonparticipation in IEPs

Sample Materials & Chapters

Preface


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For instructors

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