Offering Assistance to Parents & Educators

for 30 Years

Comments

Open Letter From A High School Student

Dear Mom and Dad and My Teachers

Learning is tough for me. Reading is bad enough, but writing can be even worse. This is short because it wares me out to write my thoughts. I need your help. I don’t need to be reminded of what I new and remebered yestrday. I didn’t remeber it today. I don’t find school work fun like you guys did. I don’t feel as smart as you tell me I am. You remind me of how stupid I feel every time you say there were others with learning problems like Enestine or the airplane guy. I am not like either one of them.  I never will be. I am me.

I do need help but I’m in high school and am tired of asking for it and not being listned to when I tell you. It does not help. I’m tired of stuff like being called out to go to a room to take tests and sit there for an hour way after I am done because you put it in that IEP.

You did that without evn asking me if I needed or even wanted it. I feel so depndnt on you all now because I’m not sure what I really can do on my own.

I can’t beleve that is what you really wanted for me because I know you care but that is where I am. I know you wanted the best for me, but you forgot what I needed and spent most of the time worrying about the IEP and not me. You worry about those silly acmodations and not helping me.

I still need your help. Please talk with me and not at me.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Comments

  • Lisa Baye Kaye

    This is excellent. It is critical to hear from the student and his/ her viewpoint. The cry for ” help” is loud and clear. I am offering another perspective which I hope is helpful and polite.
    1- The student is suppose to be part of the IEP process. Here is a case where both the parent and the other Team members forgot.
    2- I have seen students sit down with a parent and write up a vision statement ( perhaps scribed ). The student knows the IEP , goals , transition plans and all accommodations. Carries a one page bullet list of accommodations in their notebook in case they are not implemented correctly.

    3 In addition , each accommodation and/or modification is agreed upon and discussed for each teacher style or class with the student at home before each term starts . It is even better when this is done with a private neuropsychologist and they discuss the scenarios of how it will be implemented across the school day with each teachers style. Some teachers are very flexible and some are rigid. Ideas are given by the neurpsychologist on how to self advocate when the teacher or accommodation is not working.

    4 flexibility. The accommodations ideally should be flexible to meet the changing demands across the day. The student keeps a written log ( in their phone , by email or on their agenda when things are not working correctly to give the parent and hopefully private consultants the feedback to adjust things as needed.). Some teachers are super rigid. Ideally., the student self advocates to speak with the teacher privately by setting up a time after school. This meeting is then documented by email so that their is a clear understanding between the student , parent and team members.

    5 . The student helps with the IEP accommodations and agrees to them . They are written up together with the parent and neuropsychologist and presented to the Team. The team has to agree to them. Rarely have we found teams that offer ideas for accommodations unless we present a list.

    6 Yes , many kids need extended test taking time. Often that means staying after school. If the child finishes the work , the teacher can review it with them or the child can be dismissed. In my area , the teachers want to leave so the session ends when the student is done . This may cause a transportation problem if the student misses the bus and does not have a ride home.
    7. Designated times are set aside to go over the IEP during the school year. This is when the parent and child read the IEP together. The parent may make a bullet point list of key ideas. The student has to explain if it is working , with which teacher they needs something else , which teachers know how to implement the accommodations as needed.

    8. The student is the leader of their needs and hopefully is learning to self advocate for those needs. Example – student has use of a calculator but chemistry teacher won’t allow it. Student shows chemistry teacher the bullet point IEP list and sends a follow up email documenting they discused it. The student can’t finish the written work in class even with use of their own computer. Some schools don’t allow speech to text. I don’t know why. Some teachers are flexible to allow an oral explanation of knowledge so the student does not have to stay after for hours writing all the info.

    9. When selecting classes. , ask the department head which teachers are most willing to be flexible and learn about the child’s learning issues. At the start of the school year , the student meets with each teacher and explains their own learning style . They can take a list of notes with them so they don’t forget to discuss each topic. These meetings are critical because the student gets a very fast idea about if the teacher is compassionate and helpful or dismisses the students concerns as if the student is unmotivated or a burden.

    10. Transition planning. The student is involved in transition goals and planning. When this happens they know what they are working towards and can really spend 4 years of high school focusing on self advocacy skills , EFD skills and self esteem.

    11. Periodic meetings with a private educational consultant , advocate or neuropsychologist to discuss the IEP and how it plays out for each teacher in the school. That would be every semester. If a teacher is not being ” understand ding ” , the neuropsychologist can come to a team meeting to explain or write a letter addressing all school needs. Example / English teacher won’t let student use ” No Fear Shakespeare or Shakespeare Made Easy.” Is the goal to learn to read real Shakespeare or is it to learn to understand the characters and theme of ” Romeo and Juliet”. ? So – it is reasonable to use the accommodations of the other books.

    Bottom line. The student can and should be a member of the team. In many cases , going to the actual meeting is way to stressful for the student if the team is not ” friendly ” or is challenging the IEP needs. However , a good consultant can sit with the Parents and student to talk about the real needs of the student which totally vary with every high school teacher and class demands. They can meet at a public library and get a conference room to go over the IEP with the student and parents.

    Sometimes insurance will pay for a good SLP to work with the student on self advocacy , written expression and LBLD issues. Sometimes insurance will cover meetings with the neuropsychologist under a counseling session .

    Why would a school keep a student sitting at a desk for extended time of the student is done with the work.? A good teacher could then use that time to go over the work along side the student or offer help to get some homework done instead.
    Yes / I love this letter. I would hope the student has open , daily or weekly time with the parent to talk about what is working well and what needs fine tuning. Sadly , some students don’t even know they have an IEP !! Some parents just let the school write the entire IEP. Luckily , some parents and students are working together in mutual agreement. Sadly , the IEP is really great and the school does not implement it.

    • Vaughn

      Thank you for your comments, Lisa.

      The point this student was making was that the regs and concerns over the IEP superseded the team and parents from addressing her needs. She knew that they all meant well, but felt left out of the IEP process and felt that the team, with all good intentions, focused on everything but her.

      Just thought I should mention that.

      It was intended to stimulate thought and perhaps some others i will be posting soon will elicit other comments as well.

      All are welcomed.

      And all are going to stem from out own experiences.

      Thanks for your note and time you took to comment, Lisa.

      Vaughn 🙂