Persuasive Writing

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A new strategy that the school has been using since we met for a crisis intervention plan, has been to allow The Boy to send me an email when he is overwhelmed. He can go to several designated spots, hop on the computer and email me about what’s going on or what’s bothering him.

Usually, it entails a couple of emails back and forth about someone being absent. I encourage him to stick out the day, and he does.

Monday, the conversation was a bit more lengthy:

The Boy: I need you to come pick me up from school because I got sick on the bus on Saturday and then (the band director) told me to take Monday off and also, (one of his friends) and (his TA) took today off as well. I don’t want to get the other students and teachers sick. Especially (his social studies teacher) because he missed way too much school within the past 3 months. I even thought (another friend) was out too along with (the first friend) and (his TA). That is until I saw her at her locker at the end of class. I might tell her later that I may not be able to be in Social studies. I also feel really exhausted from Saturday and out of shape and I feel like I need rest. and If you can’t come, maybe Grammy and Poppy can pick me up in the black saturn vue.

Me: I know there are a couple of people absent, but your friends would miss you if you left. I need you to try to stick it out, ok?

The Boy: I can’t just stay here. If I do, I am a little worried that I might get more people sick and then they might miss school tomorrow and besides, (the band director) told me to take today off on Saturday. It’s nothing personal. He just can’t have me getting his other band students sick. I only air high-fived and pretend hugged the girls on Saturday because I didn’t want them to miss school today, although one of them already did and that is (the first friend). So now  I feel like I need to take the rest of this day off and then come back tomorrow, also let Grammy know (the band director) told me to take this day off. and Hopefully (his TA) (and the first friend) will be back tomorrow too.

Me: I’m not sure where (his TA) is but I would guess she’ll be back tomorrow. (The first friend’s) family extended her trip in DC, so if she is not back tomorrow, she will probably be on Wednesday, but she isn’t sick.  You don’t have too much longer, Bubba. See if you can stick it out. I know it’s tough, but don’t forget that if you can last the day, Grammy is taking you to Brrberry!

There were a few more emails back and forth, and then he went back to class. As I’m writing this post, I just got another email about how only one person came back today. But the strategy seems to be working, and I was tickled to see the quality of the language, the writing, and the persuasion he used. And writing is supposed to be one of his deficits! I wonder how far he could get with a little inspired teaching!

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Practical Tips for Email Documentation: IEPs and Dealing with the School

Because I am new-but-not-really-new to having to fight for my son’s rights, I have an interesting learning curve.  I am very aware of the law, but not as well versed in the day-to-day practices that are highly recommended for those of us battling the schools.  It’s not dissimilar to having a less-than-amicable divorce, especially because documentation is so important.

I have always been a proponent of email, in large part because it is an easy way to establish a paper trail.  As such, I have been emailing The Boy’s teachers and administrators since the beginning of the school year with my concerns and requests.  As we have gone further into the school year, and I have realized that things are not running as smoothly as I had hoped, I am glad I have the emails as documentation, but have found that just leaving them in my inbox is not the best organizational practice, and it would be cumbersome to try to sort, save, and/or print just the relevant correspondence.

Through trial and error, I have found a great way to organize these emails with the idea of using them for documentation in the IEP process, and possible mediation process if necessary later on.  I hope we don’t have to go that far, but it is much better to be prepared and do the legwork now than to have to go back through several month’s worth of emails.

circlesFirst of all, I highly recommend using a gmail account for your correspondence with the schools, because it has capabilities that other email accounts don’t have.  I have put all of the teachers and administrators in a “circle” within my gmail account, labeled “The Boy’s School”.  I can click on that “circle” and view all of the emails from those people without the distractions of other, unrelated emails in the way.

Secondly, I have an existing Evernote account.  You can download a free desktop version, which is all I’ve ever used, and although I don’t use it often, it has some very neat capabilities.  If you aren’t familiar, you can check it out here.  It also has an app for smartphones, which can sync with your desktop app.  Evernote is like a huge notebook where you can store and organize stuff – stuff as small as an idea, and stuff as large as a document.  One of the great things about Evernote, that we will use here, is that you can create notes by emailing whatever you’d like to your Evernote account – it sets up a specific-to-you email for this purpose.

After you have a gmail account and an Evernote account, you can then select all of the school email addresses in your gmail account and apply a filter, forwarding copies of all of the emails from people in your school circle to your Evernote account (using that Evernote-specific email), thereby creating “notes” out of all correspondence with all of your child’s teachers and administrators. To do this, select all of the messages within a “circle”, click on the “more” button, and select “filter messages like these”.  Follow the directions from there, plugging in your specific-to-you Evernote email address.  It is important to note that the filter will only forward the emails that are received after the filter has been applied – you will have to forward each email that has already been received, yourself.

Evernote

You can also save texts to Evernote by either using an app that will do this for you (there are several), or by taking screenshots of the texts on your phone (do this on an iPhone by pressing the home and power button simultaneously), and emailing them to your Evernote-specific email.  If you have the smartphone Evernote app, it’s even simpler: After you have taken screenshots of the texts, you can open your Evernote app, press the “+” button to add a note, press on the camera icon, select “choose existing” which will take you to your camera roll, and you can select the screenshot you just took of the text from your camera roll.

You can even save voicemails to Evernote (or recordings of meetings!), if you have recording capabilities on your phone/computer, and can save them as an mp3 file.

Finally, you can merge notes (say all of the emails from his social studies teacher, so you can prove a pattern of disregard for the modifications she needs to be making for your son… for example…), and/or you can create a pdf of the selected note(s) by choosing “print” and instead, saving as a pdf (click on the radio button on the lower left hand corner in the print pop-up screen).

It helps to go into all of your notes, and change the date to the actual date of the correspondence, rather than the date you entered it into Evernote – you can do this by clicking on the “i” icon.  You may also want to tag your newly entered notes with the last name of those involved.  This is not necessary with emails, as Evernote will search the emails for the relevant names, but it is another layer of organization.

These tips can also be used by teachers to keep track of correspondence with specific parents, or by anyone who needs to organize emails, texts, and the like from specific people!

This Right Here…

THIS, is why I love The Man.

cardIn between my IEP meeting this morning, and the could-be-stormy doctor’s appointment this afternoon, I was kicking butt and taking names.  I took a moment to bring in the mail, and saw a card addressed to me in The Man’s scrawl.  I can’t help but grin like a goof when he sends me something out of the blue like this.  And he does this from time to time, as well as leaves me goofy or heartfelt voice mail messages… One time, he drew our initials and a heart on the mirror in the steam from my shower.  This card contained a message from him that was sweet and told me exactly what I needed to hear.  He’s a secret romantic, and I can’t help but love him for it.

Happy weekend, folks! ❤