In an IEP meeting, I “size-up” the cast to find the major and minor players. My mindset searches for who can be or is going to be helpful to my client during this particular meeting and long after this particular meeting. Having sat in a particularly abrasive IEP meeting today, I thought I would pass along some global trends I have observed in who plays what role. Keep in mind, these are in all ways stereotypical and not ALL characters are present.
Warning: If you have not seen Toy Story 1, 2, or 3, your appreciation might not be as rich.
School Principal: Often does not “know” the child on the spectrum, unless this particular child is a “behavior” issue, in which case the assistance principal usually substitutes. Toy Story Character: Rex.
School Psychologist: “Runs” the meeting, making in vivo changes to the IEP during the meeting, but often has little contact with the student beyond initial testing (if any). Toy Story Character: Hamm.
Special Education Teacher(s): Hands in all parts of the IEP, hopefully, with love. Toy Story Character: Woody.
Regular Education Teacher(s): Cameo roles that typically offer little substance other than canned observations. In his/her defense, too many students, not enough time. Toy Story Character: Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head
Paraeducator(s): Supremely important in the trenches, cast but occasionally not “seen” and more frequently given a small speaking part. Film Representation: The Aliens.
Student Resource Officer: Sees the worst of our kids, usually, without any understanding of what has caused the behavior or how to help calm it. (They need more training.) Film Example: Sarge (with his Bucket O’ Soldiers)