Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What Do You Wear To An IEP Conference and How Do You Prepare?

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The other day was my son's annual IEP case conference.  As much as I really wanted to just show up in sweatpants, I thought it would be best to look like I was somewhat together.  Even though these are teachers and therapists that see me pick him up everyday from school in sweatpants.  Today I wanted them to take me seriously, I wanted them to value what I had to say as a member of this IEP team.

As you can see in the picture above, I dressed in what I would consider corporate casual. I had a on this brown and tan striped turtleneck sweater that I got at TJ Maxx. I also love accessories.  I think accessories whether it be a scarf or a big chunky necklace really can dress up any outfit. So you can see me wearing my "Tori Spelling Simone Goldtone Drop Necklace" that I purchased from her collection on HSN.

My makeup is:

1) Garnier BB Cream (Light/Medium) that I purchased at Target.  I love the lightweight feel, and gives me just a little bit of color.  Plus I love the fact that is has an SPF in it.

2) Next because I need a little more foundation to "help" cover up some of my lines, I use the Covergirl  & Olay Tone Rehab 2 in 1 Foundation

3) The eye color I'm wearing is the Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Quad in Sea Shell. I have the Blue Smoke and the Moonlit Violet from Neutrogena as well.  I love their products, I have a lot of success with their makeup.

4) Next I used the Neutrogena Nourishing Eye Liner in Spiced Chocolate, it goes on so well and I love the fact it is infused with olive oil and rainforest shea butter to condition the delicate skin around your lashes.

5) Then I used Neutrogena Healthy Volume mascara in Black.  I don't like this mascara as much as I like Neutrogena's Healthy Lengths.  I think the Healthy Lengths goes on more smoothly.

6) Then I used Rimmel Colour Rush on my eyebrows.

7) For blush I used Korres Magic Light/Face Contouring Power.  I like this blush it goes on well and blends really well to give me a real nice natural look with just a hint of color.

8) On my lips I have Burt's Bees Lip Gloss in Fall Foliage.  I like Burt's Bees products.  I have a difficult time with lipstick, because I like a product that keeps my lips moist, not sticky.  So Burt's Bees is the only thing that I have found that I like (but I'm open to suggestions!)

9) Then I finished the whole look off with Korres Mineral Setting Powder. It's a natural mineral blend that reduces the appearance of pores and fine lines, brightens skin tone and promotes healthy-looking, beautiful ski.

Preparation for Meeting:

In preparation for the conference, I reviewed the progress reports I received from the teachers and therapists.  Make sure that if you are not receiving progress reports against your child's IEP goals, to request them.  You should also have it stated in your child's IEP that you want progress reports every 3 months, so you can stay up on their progress or if there is no progress you can address it before their next annual meeting.

As I was reading through the reports, I started writing down my questions that I wanted to address at the meeting.  I had them in a 3 ring binder, along with examples of my son's work to show.  It's a great idea to keep an organizer of your child's work.

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special needs, schoolwork organizer, iep case conferences, special needs parenting, special needs mom

The above idea and label templates I got from I Heart Organizing. It really helps me to keep Jacob's schoolwork organized and in one spot.

I also brought with me a blank form entitled the "Student Snapshot" that I created for my SpecialMoms | A Special Needs Parenting Online Club. As the expert on your child, you as the parent or caregiver have valuable information that needs to be shared with the school community.  “Student Snapshot” is perfect; it’s a simple, quick, concise way for you to share information quickly and accurately.  This is especially important when your child's aide is out sick and they bring in a substitute aide.  They don't know your child and need a quick way to learn about their strengths or weakness, likes and dislikes.  This is perfect to keep in their cubby, locker or folder that the aide may use.  The principal, and teachers loved it so much they want all the children in the special education room to have one.

As we were going through Jacob's IEP line for line we came to the part where it mentions "Accommodations".  Make sure you understand what the difference between an accommodation and modification are.

Accommodations are instructional or test adaptations. They allow the student to demonstrate what he or she knows without fundamentally changing the target skill that’s being taught in the classroom or measured in testing situations. Accommodations do not reduce learning or performance expectations that we might hold for students. More specifically, they change the manner or setting in which information is presented or the manner in which students respond. But they do not change the target skill or the testing construct. ~ National Learning Center for Disabilities.

Examples of Accommodations:
1) Extra time to complete a task.
2) Do not time for tests.

Modifications actually do change that target skill or the construct of interest. They often reduce learning expectations or affect the content in such a way that what is being taught or tested is fundamentally changed. Modifications are instructional or test adaptations that allow the student to demonstrate what he knows or can do., but they also reduce the target skill in some way.

I wanted to make sure there were some accommodations added to his IEP that we have talked about, but have never actually put into his IEP.  I want to make sure that the school was held responsible for making sure these accommodations were implemented and the only way to do that is by putting it in writing.

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I received a great IEP toolkit entitled "IEP/504 Student Success Guide" by Pro-Family Advocate.  They had a great list "Examples of General Accommodations" that I pulled from.  For example:

1) Provide sensory breaks when needed.
2) Tailor homework assignments toward student strengths.
3) Determine whether materials are appropriate to the student's current functioning levels.
4) Be aware of student's preferred learning style and provide matching instruction materials.
5) Modify the amount of homework.
6) Limit amount of material presented on a single page.

I hope that some of these ideas were helpful and you may be able to use them as you prepare for your next IEP meeting.

Remember be confident, involved in the discussions and never sign anything.  Take the IEP home and read it through to make sure all the points in your meeting were captured.

Monday, February 18, 2013

My "Biggest Loser Challenge" is On

So here is my determination to loose weight before Spring-break!  Not sure about all of you Moms, but my weight has finally caught up to me.

This is what I saw on the scale this morning and all I can say is "yikes"!  I should be looking at those numbers on a winning lottery ticket, not on a scale.

So I am now determined to head to the gym and start a workout routine in hopes that I will loose 10 lbs. before Springbreak.  We are heading to Cancun and I will not be caught wearing a bathing suit at this weight.

I think just even the thought of feeling better everyday, not feeling so winded, tired and crappy all day is also my motivation to get in shape.

Besides working out, I also plan to drink a lot of water, and eat better.  So for lunch I had a shake from Shakeology, and plan to make a very nice light tilapia with rice.

Enjoy my first video, and follow along to see if I reach my final weight of 141.

Do you have issues with your weight?  Well take the first step to feeling better like I am.

Happy Parenting!

Marla Murasko 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Why Did I Say Yes?

So as I sit her starring at the clock, listening to a training webinar on the phone, eating my cold soup that I heated up like 20 minutes ago, trying to create a video for my son's YouTube Channel, I realize I need to go get my shower.  See I volunteered to be classroom mom for my son's Valentine's Day party.  I get to organize the games.

As I reluctantly leave my office knowing all that I need to do,the first thought that comes to my mind is "why do I do this to myself?""I have so much I need to do!" 

But I ask you don't we always do this to ourselves?  We want to be that "SuperMom" that can do it all. Because we are a "woman" and we are the multitasking queens.

So now I find myself rushing to get a shower and to help with the games for my son's Valentine's Day party at school.  Wish me luck that I can get done in time.

Well here's a little video for all those moms who always find themselves in the same situation, rushing to do things for your children and never having enough time for yourselves.  Just remember "You Are Woman"! Here's a video of my 30 minute transformation:

We both had a great time at the party the children laughing and having fun, so it made it all worth it.

So the next time you question "why did I do this", to bring a smile to your child's face.

What am I wearing:

Pink Sweater: Talbot's
Scarf: TJMaxx
Pants: St. John's Bay, JcPenney
Silver Bracelet: Ralph Lauren  

I found this song on YouTube and loved it.  It's by Jordin Sparks "I Am Woman" probably the theme song for a lot of women's lives.

Do you have a theme song that plays in your mind when you are getting ready?

Happy parenting,

Marla Murasko