|How Parents Can Communicate with School Professionals about Discipline & their Childs Educational Needs|
with Brenda Murphy,M.A.
Monday, the 11th of August 2008
cindys: Hello everyone I would like to welcome Brenda Murphy MA
cindys: Brenda is a professor at the UGA
cindys: Brenda would you start by telling us a little about yourself?
Brenda: Yes. Thanks. I have a private coaching practice for parents who have children with challenging behavior and...
Brenda: I teach Psychology at a local college and do continuing ed classes for post-grads at UGA
Brenda: Any questions?
cindys: Brenda can you help our parents to better understand how to communicate with their children's teachers?
chatadmin: Hello Brenda. Tonight you are speaking with us on how parents can communicate with school professionals about discipline and their child's educational needs....
Brenda: I train teachers in special techniques and they love to be "kept in the loop" for special circumstances.
chatadmin: what are some of the big discipline issues that parents are needing to communicate with school professionals on?
Brenda: Please think about making an information sheet about your child's special interests or academic challenges, say, math.
Brenda: Discipline, very good question. Here's what's important: tell the teacher what you are dealing with: ADD, ODD, etc.
Brenda: Also ask teachers if they might be open to hearing your ideas for good behavior management.
Brenda: For example, for ADD kids, alert the child's attention with phrases such as "This is important."
chatadmin: How do you suggest parents learn what the teacher's knowlege base is about ADD/ODD, etc.?
Brenda: Some children are easily embarrassed so working out a signal to indicate a return to focus is helpful.
Judy: What information do you suggest putting on the "information sheet" for the teachers?
Brenda: Teachers, even the non special ed ones are well versed in educational methods for special learning situations.
Brenda: I'd suggest listing the positives about my child first: curious, energetic...and then letting teachers know about meds or special instructions.
cindys: How would you let the teacher know about the not so positive sides ?
Brenda: For example, my child does not like to be touched or my child does not respond well to loud voices - shouting.
Brenda: Whatever the challenges are, be forthright. Just say what is true: My child tends to be defiant, or my child gets angry if he doesn't get his way.
cindys: With everything else going on in the class rooms and the large amount of students how would you explain this in a way that the teachers are not going to have a negative view of the your child?
chatadmin: Brenda, what special techniques do you train teachers in? Do you also have trainings for parents?
Brenda: Great question. Teachers are now dealing with a wide variety of special needs for many children. They generally appreciate a "heads up" and they will work with you if you have a method you use that is successful.
Brenda: I do have training for teachers. The next class is at UGA on Sept. 13th and 20th for PLU/CEU credit. It's the 9 Essential Skills for the Love and Logic Classroom. It's a very successful program.
Brenda: Parents may work with me privately or take one of the classes I offer in the area. This information is posted on my website: www.parentcoachingcenter.com and look on the "Schedule" page to see where I am and what I'm teaching.
chatadmin: Good information. Thank you.
cindys: do you ever do these training away from UGA?
Brenda: You're welcome.
Brenda: BTW, teachers are being taught that it is ever so important to "connect" with "challenging" children and that this skill is more important than all the techniques they will try. First comes the connection, then the technique.
Brenda: I do train away from UGA - I'm working on a parent's class now. I will come to areas upon invitation, and that is on "request" basis.
chatadmin: And could you tell us what BTW stands for please?
Brenda: Obviously, time, travel, location, etc. must be worked out first - and as my schedule permits me to travel outside the area.
Brenda: BTW = by the way.
cindys: what suggestion do you have for our foster parents who are just learning about the behavior issues of children recently placed in their home,
cindys: sometimes there isn't a lot of information, available in the beginning and the trust factor isn't there?
Brenda: Perhaps one of the greatest oversights is that foster parents need to be prepared for the role that anger plays in the life of these children.
cindys: do you have any suggestions on dealing with this anger and how to redirect it?
Brenda: A loving, stable environment is great, but it's essential to always remember that these kids come from a place of loss and grief and it cannot be glossed over by expecting kids to be "grateful" all the time.
chatadmin: I agree, do you work with teachers around this...loss & grief that foster and adopted children come with? Do you assist parents with mediation or sit in with parents on IEP meetings to coach them on developing better communication skills?
Brenda: Redirecting anger can be done in several ways. I recommend using loving, yet logical methods and lots of empathy. "This is so sad. Need a little think about it time. Come back (from their room) when you are sweet."
Brenda: I do not do mediation or the IEP, but I teach parents how to get the most out of these sessions.
cindys: this is true and most of our parents do work with the children but when it comes to the class room, some teachers are not so generous with their understanding
Brenda: I DO teach teachers that foster and adopted children are coming from a very different place and that it's important to validate them.
Brenda: Here's what you can do for the teachers...please share with them this information...
cindys: what tips can you share with our parents on IEP s?
chatadmin: Brenda, I think it would be good to share some of the suggestions you give to parents in order to get the most out of an IEP meeting for their child. Good communication is so important on both sides in the IEP meeting.
Brenda: There are 5 core issues for these children, regardless of the circumstances of the placement or adoption. The characteristics are: 1. grief 2. guilt and shame 3. identity problems 4. intimacy problems 5. sense of loss. Please teach what you know.
Brenda: In an IEP go with a notebook, pen, and lots of questions. Ask for SPECIFIC details and ask "How will this work?"
Brenda: Also in an IEP, do not let "titles" intimidate you! Follow up the chain if you need to.
Brenda: If you do not understand a particular law, ask for clarification.
cindys: some many of our parents are afraid of the titles, feeling that with all that education they should better understand then they do.
Judy: What suggestions do you have for the general ed teacher that says she has too many students to spend time with just one's needs?
Brenda: Look, we're all human. Titles don't guarantee understanding or compassion, so teach what YOU know - and that's plenty! Oh, and please go in the spirit of cooperation.
chatadmin: We, the Center have worked with school social workers and school psychologists to inform them of the challenges that foster and/or adoptive parents as well as their children experience. Any suggestions on the Center might assist parents in communicating with teachers?
chatadmin: Last part, on How the Center might assist parents...
Brenda: Love the question, Judy! Tell the teacher you do not expect her to be the "tutor" per se but you would like to know if she or he is willing to space out the work.
Brenda: When you are working with school staff, they are open to ideas, yet they are also having to deal with hostility, rage-attacks, and demands that they simply cannot keep up with. Parents feel teachers are not listening or responsive and teachers sometimes feel attacked. Next part up in a sec...
Brenda: My first comment would be that I wanted staff to know that I want to be a collaborative partner and help in any way that I can to make their understanding of the situation better.
Brenda: Please go to the library and check out the book, Influencer. There are excellent methods there for breaking through institutional resistance.
KimW: What do you do when the school blames the parent for everything? Its my understanding that my child is supposed to recieve a free and appropriate education does that mean I have to be at school with him in order for this to happen?
Brenda: Hi, Kim. It's irritating for sure when others blame us. How does the school blame you? Can you be a bit more specific? I'd like to help.
Judy: We have worked with a collaborative effort throughout my son's education (now in 9th grade) but every couple of years it seems that we have a teacher that just stonewalls on following IEP and/or making the little changes that help so much. Do you have suggestions for working with these teachers?
KimW: my son failed summer school and no one informed me until today when I called about another situation? He has a 504 plan and this has been a problem in the past he has been escorted to tutoring etc. but no one let me know what was going on in summer school? They told me they did not have to let me know because it was summer school.
Brenda: I'm sorry to hear about the stonewalling. Sadly, some teachers believe that a child's issues are " invented" or exaggerated. I don't like it either, but take your concerns to the department head or administrator. Document all. Writing down specific dates and events and conversations does wonders sometimes.
Brenda: Kim W. What in the world is going on there? I'm not sure about your school district, but this doesn't sound reasonable at all. Someone at the district level ought to be able to hear this and respond.
Brenda: Judy, have you considered offering the "Stonewalling" teacher a range of resources she might try? Sometimes teachers are not sure where to turn or how to proceed.
Brenda: To all, the Internet is loaded with great sites with practical information: ADDResources. org...CHADD.org...ADHD Coaches Association, etc.
Brenda: Sometimes you have to bring the info to certain teachers.
Brenda: By all means, if your teacher needs continuing education credit, have them look up my class on UGA's Continuing Education page.
KimW: Most of our foster and adopted children have emotional problems of some sort , how can we help these children and their families when most school systems only recognize the physical problems and ignore the emotional?
Judy: One year we had a master teacher come in and work out a specific behavior and educational intervention specifically for my son in her specific classroom. Even though the intervention had the principals support it was a struggle to have the plan worked at all in the room.
Brenda: Okay. Then you have identified the problem: it's the teacher's lack of responsiveness. Maybe that teacher ought to have a checklist sent to her to indicate what she's doing on a daily or weekly basis to keep her/him accountable.
Brenda: Sorry about the double post!
Judy: Thanks. I will use this advice if we have this resistance in the future.
Brenda: Good for you, Judy. If this teacher refuses to fill out the checklist, you have a tool for correction with her administrators.
Brenda: Sometimes you just need to be assertive and stay with it until you get the response you need.
chatadmin: Most of our parents have similar if not the same concerns that parents have expressed here. Most teachers need CEU credits so may be a good idea to make teachers aware of your classes, but for those not able to get to your classes or there other instructors around the state that coach parents?
Brenda: I'm sure there are other parent coaches out there, but make sure they have the background, training, and certification in order to help.
Brenda: I just happen to be an educator that coaches.
chatadmin: Brenda, the time has gone by very quickly. On behalf of Cindy and the Georgia Center we'd like to thank you for sharing your evening and a wealth of information with us via our Chat tonight. Thank you for being with us!
Brenda: You are very welcome. I look forward to coming back again sometime.
chatadmin: Great. Thanks again.
Brenda: You, too. It was great.
KimW: Thank you for all the great Information!
Brenda: You're most welcome, Kim!
Judy: - has left the chat -
chatadmin: This ends our chat for the evening with Ms. Brenda Murphy, M.A.