Monday, August 25, 2008

A Case of Non-Directional Frustration....

8/26/08 Update - Salamander's teacher called me this afternoon and she'll make sure she's at his school on Thursday afternoon during the same time period that the Pragmatic Learning Center has it's open house. She was actually really, really nice about things.

So I'll make sure to get there as close to starting time of the open house as possible. And maybe we'll go to visit her and the new classroom first, that way we won't keep her any longer than necessary.

Jeanne - thanks for the feedback. You are right, the *honey approach* works best (and I use it ALL THE TIME in my business). I just seem to have a much harder time using that approach when it comes to my kids. I need to get better at looking at school issues too as a business situation.

(and other people too have confirmed that the secretary at Salamander's school is a, well how shall I phrase this politely, *difficult person to get a YES answer from*? LOL)

So we're in the last full week before school starts ... So just like I've been doing for the past 5 years, since Salamander entered public school, this week is *transition back into school* week.

Now I don't need to do too much adjusting on their daily schedules. Bed times have stayed the same, and so has Potatey's getting up time (that kid is always awake at the crack of dawn). Salamander has been sleeping until about 7.30 - 8 am, some mornings even until 9 am, so I do need to bring him back to the 6.45 am wake-up schedule.

Another part is getting familiar (again) with the bus routine, the school building itself, where is the new class room, who is the new teacher, where are the bathrooms, what is the route from the class room to the cafeteria, the gym, where do the school buses drop off, where is the pick up for the school buses etc (and in case anybody thinks I am overplanning/overthinking this, as *the kids will figure all of this out on the first day of school*, then obviously you've never dealt with a child who gets extremely anxious when he does not know where everything is going to be as that means he cannot predict or anticipate how things are going to play out, and whose overwhelming anxiety manifests in aggressive outbursts).

Salamander NEEDS a lot of transition planning. School has gotten better with this over the years; we already know who his new teacher is going to be, his aide will be the same person as the last 2 years, and his special ed teacher is the same person as last year. The principal of his school reminded me on the last day of the 2008 school year that we could come visit anytime, "just give me a call'." [we all learned the very hard way that extensive transition planning is a MUST - I can't write about it here, but the transition from 2nd to 3rd grade was a total, absolute, going down in flames disaster, and we all vowed to not put Salamander in that kind of a *doomed to fail* situation ever again).

This weekend a very nice letter from Salamander's special ed teacher came in the mail, inviting Salamander to come to school on Thursday afternoon to visit the Pragmatic Learning Center to get familiar again with the room set-up, talk about the daily routine, catch up on what has happened over the summer, etc. etc. etc.

So of course I called school this morning to 1) accept the invitation, 2) to inquire whether Salamander's regular classroom teacher may be available on that same day to meet with Salamander and myself; just to reacquaint, to visit the class room, to scope out bathrooms/route to cafeteria/gym etc.

And I get utterly stonewalled by the school secretary (yes, I DO understand that she needs to be gate keeper; but heck, she's known me and Salamander for 5 years now, and she KNOWS we do transition visits EVERY SINGLE SUMMER IN THE LAST WEEK BEFORE SCHOOL). She hems, she haws, she tells me that she'll *try to leave a message for Salamander's teacher but that she's not sure that the teacher will be in before school starts*. I gently remind the school secretary of the clauses in Salamander's IEP that spell out the transition plan. And I get the exact same response. So I ask her to write down a message for Salamander's teacher with my cell phone number and a kind request to please call me at her earliest convenience to schedule a visit with Salamander and myself. School secretary does as requested and places the message in the teacher's mailbox, with a *I'm not sure if she'll come in to get the message.*

GRRRRRR. So I am not expecting a call back anytime soon. However, if I have not heard back by Wednesday mid morning I am going to give the school principal a call, and then we'll see if we can get the ball rolling that way.

I understand that there isn't a requirement for teachers to be in school BEFORE school starts, and I wouldn't be so peeved about the response I got if not for the fact that I KNOW what will happen (especially with Salamander in his current state) if the school visit and other transition activities don't happen...

Now compare the above with me contacting Potatey's school to ask THEM about a visit to school this week. Now Potatey is my extremely flexible, go with the flow kiddo, so technically he doesn't need the transition planning. BUT he's grown up in a house where a lot of previewing and transition planning takes place as part of the daily routine, and he's asked me several times over the weekend if he could visit his NEW school (he's transitioning from a full day daycare pre-K to public Kindergarten) BEFORE school officially starts. So I called the public Kindergarten (which, by the way is in the exact same town and part of the exact same school system as Salamander's elementary school). I get the school secretary there to, who IMMEDIATELY transfers me to the school principal. And the school principal's response to my *can we come visit for a bit this week, just to see where the class room is, where the kids cubbies are, bathrooms, cafeteria, school bus drop-off/pick-up* is a resounding *Of course, when would you like to come in? Would Thursday work for you, as then the custodians will be all done with cleaning and floor waxing etc. How about 9 am? I'll meet you at the door and I'll walk you around*.

WOW. What a difference eh?

Now don't get me wrong, I WILL get Salamander's school visits worked out too. But the difference in response was striking.
And especially as Salamander's school should KNOW by now how important the transition visits are, I would have expected to get the more accommodating response there...

Yes, I am feeling a lot of non-directional frustration....

(and now that I've had a chance to vent = on to the NEXT part of transition planning - umpteen pieces of medical paperwork for both boys, and getting a stash of EpiPens for Potatey...)


At 7:42 AM, August 26, 2008 , Anonymous Jeanne said...

It always surprises me how easily those not involved with the IEP process will dismiss our requests (which were discussed in the IEP). I have found, when I run into one of these special people, that a written note explaining the IEP plan I am trying to accomplish, the names of the faculty involved in the IEP, and the reasons why that person cannot help me, does the trick. I just say, "Oh, sure! I understand! You must be so terribly busy right now with school starting up... so here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to write up a little recap of our conversation and fax A COPY over to you... if you could just pop that in my son's file so that we can address this issue at the next IEP, that would be great! Oh, and don't worry about getting a copy to the Principal, I'll email a copy to her right now..."

I usually get a sigh of understanding and a turnaround on attitude and willingness to help. Funny how that works so well.

Of course the key is to be calm and sweet throughout the conversation - and I don't know about you P, but doing that is very difficult for me! I always pat myself on the back when I hang up for the great effort it took to not start going off. ;-)


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