+ Before You Write That Letter…
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...Michelle Gilkey Rayburn posted an article from Wrightslaw.com on Facebook’s Ohio Dyslexia Group page.
The article, “The Art of Writing Letters” by Pamela Wright, MA, MSW, states that a parent should never write a letter to the school when she is upset in the middle of a crisis. At such moments, she wants to do something! But Wright advises that parents keep a few things in mind before firing off that letter.
- You can never change a letter you’ve sent to a school; it is out of your hands forever.
- Your letter will be read by strangers, and decisions will be made by persons a level or two above your contact person. Most often, they don’t know your child, or the history behind your letter.
- No one will wade through a long letter to “find the nugget of gold.” If you don’t capture the reader’s attention quickly, your letter will be skimmed and put aside.
- A letter gives you a chance to make an impression on this stranger — do you want this person to see you as an angry, negative complainer or as a rational and thoughtful parent who is expressing valid concerns.
The Blame Approach vs. The Story Telling Approach
In the “Blame” approach, Mom writes a letter that says ” Your staff failed when…;” “Your staff also failed when…;” “Your staff also failed by…;” she then launches into a sarcastic takedown of the IEP, the system, and the school administration.
However, the “Story-telling” Mom thanks the addressee for the opportunity to take part in her child’s IEP development; she mentions the kindness of all participants but regrets that one or two of the teachers were unable to be present; she explains her concern about the school’s need to shorten the appointment time (noting that scheduling at “this time of year” can be difficult) so not all issues could be developed; she states that she is sure he can understand why she did not sign the document given the time constraints; she notes that she looks forward to being given some times for a further meeting; and then she encourages him to call or write if the school has additional questions.
The goal is to write the “story-teller” — the Ms Manners — letter. That mom will be in good shape if she needs to go further — to a mediator, a hearing officer or a judge. She was pleasant and businesslike, and would not have alienated any neutral decision-maker.
Remember that first impressions are lasting impressions.
For the complete article, visit