Saturday, August 29, 2009

Show Me, Don't Tell Me

When I was a teenager my mother pointed out that there are things that people say that work (or should work!) as a warning for the attentive.

The phrase she was talking about at the time was "Trust me!"

"Never trust a person--a guy--that says trust me," she said.

She, was not wrong...

People only say 'trust me' when it is too late--when someone already doesn't trust them. Usually for good reason!

Years later there are some other phrases that I have added to my danger list...

These phrases may be appropriate among strangers for a minute, but among people with longer associations they are warning beacons.

Phrases like "I'm in charge here!" for example.

A stranger may need to ask who's in charge. Your employees or children should know. True leadership should be evident without a repeated say-so.

If it isn't, there's a problem.

After hearing the play-by-play of one of my dearest friends' IEP sagas I have developed a new one:

"We have your chid's best interest at heart."

Yeah, right.

I think they should wonder why they have to keep repeating this.

I think their good intentions should be obvious.

I think they should look at their failure to read the child's evaluations before the meetings, their failure to honor regs and timelines, and their horrible disinterest in strategies that make the child successful in other venues among other atrocities for the reason they're not.

Don't you?

Anyone have other danger phrases??


terena said...

So true. People who keep saying they have the best interest of the child at heart are trying to convince themselves. Instead of saying that, perhaps they should look at why they need to keep telling themselves that.

I don't have a phrase, but I do have a word: appropriate. That one makes me leery because I don't know who is defining it. Appropriate for one may be innappropriate for the next. I want specifics as to why this or that is "appropriate."

Terri said...

Thanks, Terena! Definitely a warning word... the word 'unrealistic' sends me over the edge (I wrote a whole post about it once!)

therextras said...

"I'm from the government." (Implies authority - similar to the 'best interest' statement.)

"It's a crisis!" (Oft used by the media to escalate emotion for an issue; or sell 'news'.)

terena makes a good point on using subjective words as if they clearly reflect fact when they truly reflect opinion.

It's not easy to navigate our language in a stressful or performance-expectation setting. Like an IEP meeting. Both teachers and parents are stressed. Not surprising it is a less-than-perfect process.


william Peace said...

Ugh, "we have the best interest of the child at heart" is total bull. Based on my experience with a son who refuses to conform, the truth is "we have the best interest of the school at heart". Schools are ill equiped to deal with any student that is outside of the norm regardless of the reason.

A Bishops Wife said...

I have only been work as an advocate for 9 months....

It is not a disability advocate, perse, although many of our children and parents fall into this catagorey.

I will tell you true, that right now I feel about as enept as I have ever felt in my life. The mixed messages from those in supposed authority.....the stepping on the "little guy"....the feeding frenzey that occurs from those who just "bullie" those weaker than themselves.....lieing people.....supposition...the mixed messages.......

I feel torn assunder.
I will confess, I do not think I can do it anymore.

These "people" come with a plan. It has a predetermined outcome.

what they think today can be totaly different tomarrow depending on if they are haveing PMS or not.

The lines are so burred as to what agencey you are even working for and what is expected of you.

I must say...I admire ANYONE who can do the work of an advocate, whether it is the parent or a professional.

I just can not take it anymore.

Terri said...

Bill, I think you're right. Outside the expected is treated as bad--when often it's just different. Then we wonder why kids aren't accepting...

Mrs. Bishop's Wife, I am SO sorry that you are going through all of this. The mix of systems (which truly only have their own interests at heart) and people's own agenda can be horrible--add money and power and it becomes absolutely toxic.

I have never been a professional advocate so my doses of frustration are considerably smaller than people like you who advocate every day, yet I also get totally overwhelmed by the whole mess sometimes... it is not fun.

The things that work for me are related to boundary-setting: relying on the more analytical pieces of my personality, working next step by next step and avoiding focusing too much on the big picture except as a guide (eating the elephant one bite at a time, as the saying goes,) and taking breaks or setting times when I will/won't work on the situation so I am fresh. Time off is time OFF--doing things that are fun and nourishing for me, I also try to pass on what I learn somehow--makes it seem more worth it.

By the way, I don't always succeed at this, and I don't at all when I'm worried about my own child. But I figure the parent I'm working with is losing sleep over their child so I try not to so I bring something different to the mix to help them.

By the way, the IEP mess I refer to in this post turned out GREAT and surprised evereyone--after months of posturing and arguing and ignoring every rule and precept ever written, the school met with the intent of doing something FOR the kid, finally...

They--parent and school--have worked out a program where this child could actually succeed. (His team will be much happier too--engaging a child makes life better for everyone, it really does!)

I am sorry you're buried right now, I hope you can get some air and some clarity and some rest! Thank you for the help you give folks--and if you decide to change things, thank you for the new ways you will reach folks.

I will keep you in my thoughts.

Penny L. Richards said...

"It's my professional opinion...." It's pulling rank to deny services. We have to deal with one person who uses this a lot--once I recognized this was her game, I learned to call her on it. In my head I can say "Hey! Your professional opinion isn't infallible, and this IEP isn't about your need for admiration, so get over yourself already."