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    22B #169335 09/27/13 06:28 AM
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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Don't let these people manipulate you into blaming yourself.


    Amen! We spent too much time last year thinking there was something wrong with our son based on what the administrator and his teacher said. Oh, and don't be surprised if the teacher doesn't "get" your DS either. It took almost the entire school year for our son's teacher to admit he was "high ability."

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    I once read that in a survey of doctors and patients across various backgrounds, the group that gets the best quality of service from the medical profession is... engineers. Engineers advocate successfully for the right kinds of treatments because they:

    - Separate out emotions and focus on the problem as a technical issue... which is all it is to the doctor, when you get right down to it.
    - Ask probing questions and examine the diagnosis for consistency: "But if the problem is X, shouldn't I also be experiencing symptoms D and E?"
    - Ask for verification methods (even if it's just, "If it doesn't clear up in a few days...") and a plan for follow-up if the initial diagnosis turns out to be incorrect.

    So in other words, engineers are successful because they speak the same language, approach the problem from the same angle, and already know the next steps.

    Which, if my experience is any indication, also makes engineers fairly poor advocates for education. I did not speak their language (initially), understand their approach to the problem, or know what the next steps would be.

    In fact... I'm not sure we both came together to solve the same problem. DW and I went into those meetings seeking a solution for a more appropriate education for our daughter. I assumed they were there for the same thing, which is why I always let them know that, while we always came with a proposed solution, I was open to any alternatives they might propose, so long as they addressed the problem at hand. Our proposals were rejected, and no alternatives were forthcoming. As time went by, it became apparent that they believed that they had already provided the most appropriate education for my daughter, so the only problem they had come to solve was... complaining parents.

    Looking back on my post, it seems that the problem wasn't so much one of personality, but of recognizing and accepting that the school had placed upon us an unreasonable burden of proof to demonstrate how the classroom environment they had chosen for DD was, as we said, toxic. Since the ways she presented at home and at school were entirely contradictory, that was not a burden we could fulfill through conversation.

    Eventually, we got the right solution (at least it seems like it, so far) by bypassing them altogether.

    Since then (because advocating never ends), we've gotten a good deal more success by cutting through all of the fluffy nonsense and focusing the dialog on their core mission: teaching. They love to talk about the whole child, and the various other domains, like social and emotional, and what they're doing about all that. We fell into that trap originally, mainly because it was in the social and emotional domains that they were doing her so much harm, so we thought that was a good basis for discussion. I finally came to realize that an appropriate placement with peers that addresses her intellectual needs solves all the other problems in the other domains, so I need to focus entirely on that. Now, I boil it down to one simple statement: "My DD needs to be learning," and I return to that theme whenever the conversation starts wandering down the wrong path. If they try to interject about "the whole child," I remind them that we're the parents, worrying about that is our job, and we are on it.

    Dude #169347 09/27/13 07:07 AM
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    Originally Posted by 22B
    Don't let these people manipulate you into blaming yourself.
    Agreed. Great book suggestions above. Fixing the rut in the gifted education road might include teachers/schools/programs readily using available resources (data/scores/research/parental input) to achieve appropriate academic placement and pacing, cluster grouping by readiness and ability, without regard to chronological age or grade level.

    Originally Posted by Dude
    ... (because advocating never ends), we've gotten a good deal more success by cutting through all of the fluffy nonsense and focusing the dialog on their core mission: teaching. They love to talk about the whole child, and the various other domains, like social and emotional, and what they're doing about all that. We fell into that trap originally, mainly because it was in the social and emotional domains that they were doing her so much harm, so we thought that was a good basis for discussion. I finally came to realize that an appropriate placement with peers that addresses her intellectual needs solves all the other problems in the other domains, so I need to focus entirely on that. Now, I boil it down to one simple statement: "My DD needs to be learning," and I return to that theme whenever the conversation starts wandering down the wrong path. If they try to interject about "the whole child," I remind them that we're the parents, worrying about that is our job, and we are on it.
    Agreed! (Emphasis added in quote above.)

    Added link to this post which contains research to support the quoted parent's statement.

    Dude #169349 09/27/13 07:11 AM
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    Originally Posted by Dude
    As time went by, it became apparent that they believed that they had already provided the most appropriate education for my daughter, so the only problem they had come to solve was... complaining parents.

    Looking back on my post, it seems that the problem wasn't so much one of personality, but of recognizing and accepting that the school had placed upon us an unreasonable burden of proof to demonstrate how the classroom environment they had chosen for DD was, as we said, toxic. Since the ways she presented at home and at school were entirely contradictory, that was not a burden we could fulfill through conversation.

    "My DD needs to be learning," and I return to that theme whenever the conversation starts wandering down the wrong path. If they try to interject about "the whole child," I remind them that we're the parents, worrying about that is our job, and we are on it.

    +1 for that entire post.

    I suspect that many or most of us here are familiar with what you've described.

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    Which, if my experience is any indication, also makes engineers fairly poor advocates for education. I did not speak their language (initially), understand their approach to the problem, or know what the next steps would be.

    +1 here, too.

    This is why I became the go-to person with medical and with educational advocacy. My DH doesn't speak the language as a native in either instance. I was raised in a bilingual household w.r.t. education, so I know that stuff. I don't have to think about translating.

    If you're not a native speaker, you have to do some legwork up front to understand where the other players are coming from. Classroom teachers are generally there because they really care about children-- so resistance is often about ignorance, not malice.


    Last edited by HowlerKarma; 09/27/13 07:16 AM.

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    Thanks for all the thoughts! Gave me lots to think about and books to read.

    I guess I'm feeling kind of confused, because when we spoke with the principal in the spring (with test scores to back us up); she was very helpful and seemed concerned about ds.

    At the meeting this year with district people too; it just went badly. The district people were unwilling to hear about vision accommodations. (I did talk about this in another thread). The principal then said to talk to the teacher about differentiation.

    I think I am worried that if this teacher doesn't really get him (because "she's so good at that"); I'm not sure this school is going to work out. Especially to me, he's pretty easy to get (but I know I'm biased). We'll see.

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    Well I know I have the wrong personality.

    I withdraw when the other person is forceful - especially when they are male.

    I don't read body language and am a bit literal when it comes to language.

    I am really really bad at schmoozing. I just don't have the energy or time to play games. I just don't see why it has to be such a big deal to allow a child to actually learn something.

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    Melessa, here's a TEDx talk you might like, too.



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    Originally Posted by aquinas
    Melessa, here's a TEDx talk you might like, too.

    This TEDx talk by social scientist Jeni Cross on the subject of Creating Change shares the strong positive influence of presenting societal norms which model the desired behavior, on impacting the results achieved when advocating for change. She opens with this at the beginning (00:54 - 01:46) and closes with it near the end (16:00 - 17:14).

    This suggests that parents interested in broadening pro-gifted education behavior and attitudes, may wish to find and focus on gifted ed success stories.

    In applying that lesson from this TEDx talk, might a collection of gifted teacher/school/program success stories be the start of a new advocacy thread which parents could tap into and leverage as needed?

    Davidson Academy might be a great first example?

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    I honestly don't think there is a right or wrong personality for advocating for our children. I do think there are better approaches than others - and using your own unique personality is so important because it makes your words genuine and authentic.

    Using the right communication tools is a different thing - consensus building, removing emotion, etc. that are mentioned here are personality agnostic for the most part.

    For me, the most important piece is believing that you have the right, responsibility, and power to advocate. Schools are built on general rules; we spend our lives pushing for exceptions not for the sake of the exception but for because it evens the playing field.

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