Who Cares about Our Children?

By: Gary L. Cates, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP

Who Cares?

I have the luxury of working with some of the most important people in the world. These people however don’t always seemingly get along because they often operate under a different set of rules despite having the same common goals. Parents, teachers, and other school personnel such as school psychologists, principals, social workers, speech language pathologists, are in the world of individual students on a daily basis and share the common goal and responsibility of ensuring student success. It is critical that parents and school personnel often consider the perspectives, strengths, constraints, and issues facing one another when going about their respective routines.

Today’s parents are faced with a multitude of daily activities including getting their children to t-ball practice, making sure there is money in the lunch account, checking homework assignments online, having sensitive discussions about things like wearing deodorant and not giving into peer pressure, and sometime in addition to attending emotionally taxing individualized education program meetings with well-versed school personnel. Some parents have additional challenges like not having the money for the lunch accounts, not living in a community where quality extracurricular activities such as t-ball are offered, not having internet access to check homework assignments online, and finding transportation to and from the IEP meeting. It is precisely these additional challenges that may impede parent-school relationships. It is therefore critical for teachers to consider the unique challenges that each parent faces on a daily basis and help them work around these challenges to better foster the success of the child.  Parents care.

Like individual parents, various school personnel also face many challenges. Today’s school personnel are required to demonstrate progress with all students, be versed in the latest research based assessment and interventions for academic and social emotional functioning, deal with well-intentioned parents emailing them about their students grades, keep the online homework assignments and grades up to date, learn about and show interest in each child’s stories about their t-ball team, have sensitive discussions about wearing deodorant and not giving into peer pressure, and sometimes attend emotionally taxing IEP meetings. School personnel care.

Based on my work with both parents and school personnel, I have developed a website based on 3 strong beliefs.

  • First, I firmly believe that parents and school personnel want what is best for each child they encounter.
  • Second, I believe parents and teachers both sacrifice their own personal time, energy, and resources to help children succeed despite those efforts not always being recognized.
  • Third, I believe that if equipped with the right resources and training, parents and school personnel can be better equipped to facilitate success with all students. Everyone cares.

The website, www.garycates.net was simply started as a central location for parents and school personnel to obtain access to information and resources. Although the focus is primarily revolves around the assessment and treatment of academic skills deficits, the information and resources also are heavily focused on the implementation of multi-tiered system of supports/Response to Intervention (MTSS/RTI). In addition, I provide links to some of my invited presentations, tools that have been constructed out of necessity when working with parents and school personnel, and a few of my “go to” websites.

I have discovered that many parents and school personnel want to do what is best, but often don’t have the tools or resources to help them be successful. Some may even have the knowledge but lack the additional time in their daily lives to locate the resources, construct their own tools, or to stay abreast of the rapidly increasing research base of assessment, intervention, and implementation science. I try to facilitate this by providing a place for them to access the things I learn through my work with other parents and school personnel like them in addition to the websites I discover and the literature I read.

My perspective is one of optimism. I believe that there are not many parents or teachers who wake in the morning, sip their coffee, and contemplate how they can impede a child from succeeding. It is this perspective that has taken me beyond attempting to link assessment to intervention, but to move toward linking assessment and intervention to parents and school personnel. By equipping all stake holders with resources and helping everyone to consider the individual strengths and challenges that each bring to the table we can better ensure the success of all children. I challenge each parent and school personnel to confront one another with one basic premise: The person in front of you cares just as much as you do about the success of children in our schools.

Come check out my website and all the free tools and resources @ www.garycates.net

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