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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



June 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

Most teaching programs do not cover how to handle difficult parents, especially parents of special needs children. 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:

- create partnerships by examining 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

Sample Materials & Chapters

Preface

Chapter 1: Generating Alliances, Not Lawsuits


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