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Empathy and Understanding as Educators

As educators I think that we often forget the power of empathy and understanding with our students and families. We work in education so we are comfortable with the system, structure and routines that make up a school. However our parents and students do not always share this level of comfort or familiarity. Often parents and students are intimated by the education system or schools and this can result in disengagement. As the father of a special needs student I can tell you first hand that my career in education did not prepare me for the experience of being on the other side of the table in an IEP. Despite being in hundreds of IEP's as a teacher and administrator; being a parent in the meeting was the most difficult things I have ever experienced. Even though I was familair with the system and the procedures of the IEP it did not make sitting in that meeting any easier or more comfortable as a parent. It is this experience that changed me and my approach as an administrator. Anytime I have a conversation with a parent I try to remember the feeling I had in that IEP and be empathetic and unserstanding to the fear, anxiety and feelings a parent or student may feel.

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