Monthly Archives: October 2015

I Don’t Have Time!

Take a peek into my inner thoughts on any given day…

My mouth: “I don’t have time to do something for me!”

Stern voice in my head: “Rephrase please: You choose not to have time.”

My mouth: “You don’t understand! I DON’T have time!”

Stern voice: “Okay, believe what you will, and go on being miserable.”


I catch myself saying it more often than I care to admit! What if the stern voice makes a good point? I make choices with my time. A dear friend is batting terminal cancer. I would never dare to complain to her that I lack time!

I think we as humans (me included) are fooling ourselves when we say we don’t have time. Now, I realize that that there are circumstances and times in life when events out of our control take over and consume our time.

On any given day, what do you trade your time for? I mean the tiny pockets of time…5 – 10 minutes here and there? If I was to watch a replay of my day on video, would I be able to identify times where I chose to use time to:

Surf the internet

Scroll through Facebook

Chat with a co- worker about how much I have to do

Scramble at the last minute, searching for items I have put somewhere without thinking

Complain to someone about lack of money, resources and so on

Play a game on Facebook…remember Farmville?

Press the snooze button, roll over and go back to sleep

Watch a few hours of TV

Nothing is inherently wrong with any of these activities. But, I need to take responsibility for how I use my time.  I cannot tell myself that I do not have time to make healthy meals, exercise, pray, meditate or take a walk, if I choose to give time to activities that will not serve or build me. Perhaps, I could work to manage my activities rather than manage my time.

Warm wishes,


manage activities

The TRUTH about Individual Education Plans

It’s only fair that I be honest right from the start. I don’t enjoy creating individual education plans. I have a hard time deciding what goals to choose, especially when a student’s needs are high. I want to do it all and be all I can, for the student who needs me most.  I hate how scripted and hemmed in I feel by IEPs – always striving to be clear and concise while incorporating the correct terminology and prescribed components. Frustration grips me at times when I am trying to transform ideas into meaningful SMART goals. Instinct about what I really want for a student clashes with the question of how I can put that knowledge into a well written goal and subsequent objectives. I especially hate trying to decide how I will measure the goal! I find writing individual education plans tiring and mind bending at times.

You might think that having researched IEPs for years, written books and consulted in the development of them, I would hold some perverse pleasure in the documents. No, quite the opposite; the more I learn, the more I confound my own ability to create a simple and authentic product. Lurking in the shadows of my awareness is the suspicion that no one will really even look at the IEP when it is complete. Does anyone actually pore over it and integrate its ideas into daily practice? I cringe considering the answer. Despite my feelings, I must concede that the core of my beliefs as an educator center on individualizing education based on the unique qualities of each student.

In the essence of who I am there lies an unchanging, profound desire to make someone feel good about themselves. Twenty some years of teaching has not changed this deep drive within me. Even the crappiest of days can be transformed by one small moment when a student looks into my eyes and I witness the unmistakable glow that proclaims, “I get it!” This declaration reflects the deeper and unspoken thrill of the words, “I am smart!”

So what does this love for growth have to do with an individual education plan? Everything.  An IEP will only be as valuable to the degree that it reflects a genuine desire to help a child be his/her best self. Let’s be clear, and maybe a little harsh: if you are going to view the IEP as a formal hoop completed with as little time, energy and enthusiasm as possible, in order to appease some external force, then I suggest the final product will indeed be quite uninspiring. It will be done. You will have fulfilled your duty. But, you will have missed an opportunity to transcend the drudgery.

An individual education plan gives us an occasion to use the gifts that brought us to a career in education: creating a vision for another person’s life, thinking through the steps of getting there, and finally, crafting activities and strategies to facilitate growth towards the vision. Without meaning to diminish our role as teachers, many students will have theroadmap intellect and skills to achieve their goals with minimal direct intervention from us. But, as you are well aware, there are students who need our skills, our creativity and our compassion more than others in order to grow towards their potential.

IEPs can make a difference when they are viewed with a growth mindset: the core belief that intelligence and abilities can be developed (Dweck, 2007). Personal growth in ourselves and in our students is not only possible, but, expected. When we allow ourselves to dream with and for the child, we create far more than a legal document, but a roadmap of the best travel plans we can conceive. And we begin the journey one small step at a time.

I wish you a rich journey; a journey of growth and development for both you and your student!  🙂


An exceprt from Been There. Done That. Finally Getting it Right. A Guide to Education Planning for Students with Autism.