I sit in a lot of IEP meetings and it never ceases to amaze me how often it is suggested that we take supports away from the kids who are doing well with the supports in place. Worse than that is when someone suggests dismissing the kiddo from special education services.
Why is that our inclination?
Wouldn’t it be better if we kept the supports in place and adjusted the IEP goals? Wouldn’t that be great data to analyze and use to ensure further growth? Success with supports provides a wealth of information that we can use when planning and developing effective interventions.
Let’s consider how rarely our kids with IEPs actually feel successful and stress free enough to learn. Since learning is our goal, why would we take away the very things that allow our kiddos to learn? Why would we remove all that allows our kiddos to feel empowered and effective?
Oh, don’t say it. Please, don’t say it!
We cannot continue to enable them.
We are making them dependent.
We are teaching them learned helplessness.
Fist of all, yes, we are enabling them to learn. Last time I checked, that is what we were supposed to do in school.
Secondly, is a diabetic dependent on medication to manage diabetes?
Thirdly, we are not teaching helplessness if we have effective and empowering supports in place. If we give the student all the answers, tie his shoes when he knows how, and come running to help when he doesn’t even ask for it, then we are teaching helplessness.
Giving our students what they need to fully participate in the learning process and to be appropriately engage socially is the moral and ethical thing to do.
I propose that we spend time analyzing the supports in place and pull back from, or cull out, the supports that are not longer needed based on data collection. Only remove what the student has repeatedly and constantly demonstrated he does not need. And we base those decisions on data and effective analysis of that data. We adjust the accommodations, we up performance range on the IEP goals.
We keep in place all that is working for our students. We enable them to learn. We enable them to participate socially. We allow them independence with specific supports. We encourage taking learning risks. We are the net that catches them when the learning risk is scary because we know that the trapeze artist has not learned helplessness when she practices new moves with a net.
I have said it before. I will say it again. If we just use compassion, common sense and critical thinking, we will enable ourselves to assist the learning of the kids we are working with. Will independently arrive at decisions best for kids. We will most certainly not be helpless when serving our students.