Dealing with Conflict
A positive school climate combined with a relationship of mutual respect can help professionals, parents, guardians, and educators work constructively together to address concerns related to programs and services before they become a source of conflict. However, even when approached with the best intentions, disagreement may arise over any aspect of the student’s program, such as IEP goals, instructional methodology, the use of assistive technology, curriculum modifications, etc. Typically, conflict arises during the planning and implementation stages of the student’s special education program. If educators and parents find themselves at an impasse, Shared Solutions, a guide created by the Ministry of Education, may be a valuable resource. Essentially, Shared Solutions is a guide to preventing and resolving conflicts regarding programs and services for students with special education needs.
Shared Solutions is a resource guide intended to help parents, educators, and students with special education needs, work together to prevent conflicts, resolve them quickly, and allow students to develop to their full potential and succeed in school. The guide states that conflict in special education may be based on issues related to the planning and implementation of a student’s special education program. Additionally, poor relationships may develop for a variety of other reasons, leading to conflict between parents and educators.
The following are potential sources of conflict:
- Planning conflicts happen when parents and educators do not have access to the same information about the student and/or have a different understanding and ideas about the student’s strengths and needs, and the appropriate special education programs and services for the student.
- Implementation conflicts happen when parents perceive that plans for special education programs and services have not been adequately implemented.
- Relationship conflicts may arise as a result of cultural differences, styles of interaction, breakdowns in communication, and/or a loss of trust between parents and educators.
The guide includes a number of actual case studies with background information, context/steps taken and strategies that were used to resolve the conflict.
Note: Students with LDs are encouraged to be part of the process and partnership and to develop self-advocacy skills.
Parents' past experiences with their child’s teachers may impact the way they deal with you as their child’s current teacher. What may be perceived as a “difficult parent”, might in fact be a parent who has had to deal with a number of setbacks and frustrations while trying to navigate the special educational system on their child’s behalf. It is important for educators who work with students with LDs to try to cultivate empathy and caring so that they approach parent-teacher relationships with care and sensitivity.