As I ended this book, I was feeling exhausted. Dancing too can leave you exhausted. However, if the dance partners are in sync with the music, and most importantly each other, the exhaustion is well worth it. The same applies to the partnership between parent and professional. When the going gets tough you gotta keep going. I think the big take away from this book was that not every dance is going to go smoothly. In fact a lot of them are going to be hard work, but the work is worth it. As long as the center is the child involved every phone call, message sent home, email, or meeting has significant importance even when you may not see it. I think that is when it is the hardest, when you don’t see the appreciation for all the efforts. At the end of the day it is about the student and what is best for the student. All the stepped on toes, when you try a new move and you fall flat on your face, all of it is worth it if the focus is on the student. Communication and kindness are to relationships as practice is to dancing.
I think everyone has been there; the yelling, the screaming, or maybe just dirty looks, no matter the degree of anger being shown anytime someone is visibly angry with you it can be a very uncomfortable feeling in your gut.
I know personally when I sense tense vibes in the air, whether directed at me or not, I get very nervous and jittery. I am a peacemaker so when things get tense I tend to shut down, or worse…. Cry…
I can not imagine the embarrassment I will be under the day I break down in the middle of a heated meeting. My hope is that after using some tips provided in this chapter, along with some of my own tips I have picked up along the way, I will be able to hold it together and be as professional as possible. That is my hope.
The mother in this chapter who is obviously upset I believe is feeling hopelessness. I agree with the reading about how sometimes we forget that in the middle of rages or arguments the true feelings behind these emotions is truly love. Love can drive and has driven many to fits of rage, or crying hysterically. Love is so powerful I think it is strange we forget that this is a main motivation for parents. The love of their child. Sometimes anger can come from years of bad dance partners. When we do not know what the root cause is we must stop and question things rather than jump to our first responses which is usually emotional and not logical.
One thing I will take away from this chapter and the reoccurring theme in this book is to not take things personally. On the flip side coming from the parents viewpoint I think it is easy to forget that parents may not understand where it is you are coming from either.
To close I liked how this chapter ended with talking about taking the “judges wig” off. I believe that is essential to coming to the table with new fresh ideas to better help the child involved.
This chapter started out by giving parents a list of suggestions. The one that stuck out this most to be was to Aim high and resist the pull to limit their dreams. I think when you are given a list of diagnosis or labels on your young child it is easy to drop what you think might be their future. This sticks out to me because as a person with a disability I remember hearing of my parents reactions. Many professionals were already explaining my future. They were listing things that I would never do. And as 20 plus years have passed, I am here to say that they were wrong about most.Though some of those things were achieved later in life such as driving a car, and some achieved differently such as when I read a book, the dreams were still achieved. This sticks with me when I am working with a very young child with very big words attached to them. To tell a parent to not have big dreams just because the dreams may have to be altered is wrong. Another piece of advice that stuck out to me was to give feedback. Parents should provide professionals with feedback. Tell them what you like and don’t like about how they approach the situation. If you like a certain way they dance, let them know so that they can continue to move that way, but if they are stepping on toes that needs to be acknowledged also.
The third piece of advice for parents that I liked was this, “A primary role of parents is to support their children to understand their disability, to know what supports and interventions they need, and how to advocate for themselves” This was a big thing for me personally. I owe a lot to my mother always teaming up with my vision teachers at school to help me learn how to advocate for myself. Without her showing me by example time and time again, I would have never had the courage to go to college professors and explain what I need to be successful in their classes. If we are going to keep dreaming big for our children with disabilities than we need to show them how to advocate for themselves so that one day when they are adults they can create even bigger dreams for themselves.
As the chapter continued another point that stuck out to me that was directed towards professionals was re framing the phrase “being in denial” to ” being in disagreement”. I think this is perfect for really retraining your brain to see the big picture and different perspectives. It is so easy to see it from just one side. Especially if you start taking every blow given personally. When we take a step back we start to realize there are other things going on.
Towards the end of the chapter they talk about different suggestions. I thought it was a neat idea to have table tents with names and roles on them. I know personally I forget coworkers names, I can not imagine how a parent feels walking into a room full of people who you can not for the life of you remember what they do for your child. As I close, I think another good point made was speaking about beginning and ending meetings with intentions and care. I believe that caring and having genuine intentions can speak louder than having all the answers. It is weird how much this book has been speaking to me more and more on relationships in general, not just in a meeting room.
To qu0te the beginning of the chapter, ” The power of unspoken worries and reactions should not be underestimated because they shape relationships and determine outcomes for the children involved.” I think so many times it is easy to forget underlying thoughts someone might have that they are not saying especially if it a negative reaction that the person is giving you. Instead of thinking, hmm… what could be causing that reaction we internalize it and think, man they are rude. Or don’t they know I am just trying to do my job.
The idea of being able to truly get inside the head of someone like with the 2 stories they presented would make life a lot easier. Unfortunately since this is something that can not be done, I found some of the tips and thought process of the parents to be quite thought provoking. “I wish that all this worry would go away so I could go on being Sam’s mom, being me.” Fear I believe can cause many different reactions. This is something I think I need to keep in mind. Sometimes this negative reaction is out of fear or worry of the unknown, it isn’t a personal attack towards me. To again quote the text, “I’m not mad at you.” It is so quick to forget the parent is projecting feelings and fears towards you but it is not about you.
I long to give you answers, but often I just don’t have all the answers. On the flip side of the coin is the professionals thoughts. This is one thought that I have had many times myself. This is probably why it stuck out so much in my mind. This idea that I or anyone else is supposed to fix someones child is scary and puts high stress on the professional. What if the parent asks me a question I can’t answer? What am I supposed to say? “She taught me what no textbook could: how painful and frightening this process can be for parents.” At the end of the day I believe you can learn more and more through each experience and try your best to build on the things you learn from these experiences to better your relationships in the future. “The paradox is that to help, I must hurt.” For someone who is a such a feeler, this is a harsh statement. I wish the truth of this was not so real.
As I read about Rachael’s story, I thought about the words that professionals use to speak to parents. “I have a hard time remembering this special ed lingo.” Time and time again I have witnessed and even been apart of using the lingo, forgetting that this lingo may be new to the parent. It would be like an elderly man trying to figure out what teenagers are talking about these days.
Another thing I liked about Rachael’s story was the idea of being able to step away during a disagreement and being able to come back to it with a fresh idea that may not be business as usual, but that may strengthen the trust and respect for the relationship.
I personally love metaphors. When people are explaining things to me and I start looking at them like a deer in headlights, all they have to do is start using a metaphor or a story and I am back in the game. I also love to dance, so needless to say “The Dance that Matters” had me hooked from the beginning. I started picturing how it feels when you are asked to dance from someone who you have never danced with before. There are plenty of nerves on both ends, and lots of questions. Should I let him lead? What if he steps on my toes? Just as the book talks about these are the same types of anxiety ridden questions that are asked from both parties when starting a new relationship between parent and any one member of the IEP team.
“Partnerships evolve over time and go through a series of developmental phases during the course of working together.” This part in the book stuck out to me. Just like in dancing, you become better partners the more experience you have together. I like how the book goes on to talk about how sometimes its messy and sticky and that does not mean it is a doomed relationship.
In close I am excited to continue reading about “The Dance that Matters”. It is after all something that I believe we all need to be reminded of. Beginning of relationships of all kinds can be messy and weird, but we must find a way to fight through. It does matter.