November 11, 2011

My First IEP Meeting, YIKES

Rick Perry's brain freeze moment during a debate where he could not remember the name of an agency, reminds me of when I sort of screwed up at my first IEP meeting. My blunder was embarrassing, but at least it was not televised and plastered all over the news.

I am not a shy person and I usually have no problems with public speaking. However, when I headed my first IEP meeting completely on my own, it was as if I was standing in front of a firing squad. I went from cool and calm to a bumbling neurotic mess. There I was, sitting at the head of a long table with eleven different people looking at me waiting for me to start. I nervously shuffled through the papers before me and muttered under my breath about trying to find the right paperwork. Except for my muttering and the papers rustling, it was silent in the room.

After what seemed like hours, someone coughed. I looked up and said, "Okay, let's get started. I, er, um, think everyone is here." It was getting hot in the room. Then, for some reason, I started coughing some, and clearing my throat, as if this will help me get going. I started thinking about a scene from the movie, Along Came Polly, where the actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman, plays a character heading an important meeting. He clearly does not know what he is talking about and begins the meeting constantly clearing his throat and taking time to drink some water before he started his ridiculous speech. It is a really funny scene. I tried not to laugh as I thought about it.

Meanwhile, everyone waited for me to start. The mom picked at her fingernails and stared off in space. An administrator yawned and scratched his nose. I kept saying, "Okay, okay."

Then I quickly said something about how we should introduce ourselves. Everyone took turns and said their names and positions with no problems. Then when it was my turn to introduce myself, I froze. I could not remember my name. I started freaking out. Everyone stared at me as I sat there. I finally blurted out, "Oh, and I am deaf, hard of hearing teacher, case manager". Someone asked, "What is your name?" Without thinking, I responded, "I don't know, you tell me." Everyone laughed and giggled as if it was the funniest thing they ever heard. My face turned red. "Why did I say that?" I asked myself.

I am such a weirdo sometimes.

After I apologized and admitted that I was nervous and explained that this was my first time heading a meeting on my own, it got better. I relaxed some. The administrator and others pitched in to help and guide me through. There were no issues and problems. The meeting went great. Whew! Now, I am not the least bit nervous when I head meetings. It took about 10 meetings until I finally started to feel comfortable. However, I am no expert and still make plenty of mistakes, but I no longer beat myself up over them. The only times I am stressed about a meeting if it is going to be a difficult situation, or if the parents are very upset.


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