TregoED Blog

Decisions in Special Ed Begin by Asking the Right Questions

by Guest Blogger:  Pat Schwarber

There are all kinds of decisions facing special education educators every single day.   Time is not the only pressure facing you.  Outside forces, in many cases, create more pressure than the ever dynamic pressure of time.  So, how do you make rational, transparent and defensible decisions? 

Take a look at this actual scenario:

Robert, a district special education director, was receiving pressure from parents of a special needs student, who wanted their daughter re-assigned to another classroom because of a perceived lack of progress. The student’s teacher disagreed and was confident she was the best teacher to meet the student’s needs.  The student’s principal was anxious to support his teacher.  Robert does not want the school or district to succumb to undue parent pressure, yet he needed to do what was in the best interest of the child.  He was brought in to investigate the situation and make the final decision.

What will the decision be?  What will Robert do?  And, more importantly – what would you do?

Perhaps the first step is to develop a common language among colleagues by using a process.  Begin by asking the right questions:

What process will we use for shared decision making? 

How will we communicate with each other regarding decision making? 

And, what input do we need to make the best possible decision? 

These are but a few of the questions we need to ask in order to make the kind of decision that is representative of the stakeholders, considers  the most important criteria and the downside of any choice we make.   In the end, effective decision making is about asking the right questions, getting the right input and considering the benefits as well as the risks.  Sound simple?  If everyone is on the same page it can be!!!   You can get off to a good start by asking the right questions right from the beginning.