And today… I learned a lesson.
I had an IEP meeting today.
Except I didn’t know it was an IEP meeting.
I thought it was a meeting with the team that has been evaluating the child to discuss his progress thus far. The meeting invite didn’t indicate that it was an IEP meeting.
I walked into the meeting and told the coordinator that I’d need to step out about 40 minutes into the meeting because I’d need to pump [breast milk] because, after all, this meeting is during my lunch break and that’s what I usually do during my lunch- pump milk for my child. After I told her I’d need to step out, she said “oh.” That’s all.
I thought I’d be able to say my piece about this child and step out.
Then the family walked in and I immediately knew this was not just a meeting with the academic team.
Okay, maybe I can still go pump.
The school psychologist was there as a member of the admin team and about 40 minutes in, I asked her (in my whisper voice) if I could be excused to go pump.
“You can’t leave the meeting. There needs to be a General Education teacher present. If you need to pump (insert rude voice here) then you need to do that quickly and come right back because you need to be here.”
Never mind that I hadn’t said a word all meeting besides my name and my title. The special education teacher was doing all of the talking and hadn’t asked me one word.
Ten minutes later, the school psych looks at me and says “go pump if you need to pump. You can go ask one of your teammates to come in here to be a rep. of the general ed. staff.” To which I replied that it was my team’s lunch time. I didn’t think it was fair to pull my teammates away from their lunch to sit in a meeting about a child they don’t know and to say nothing at all. (Since I wasn’t being asked for my opinion)
Well, apparently I wasn’t allowed to bring up to her that it was our lunch period because she said THEY CAN BRING THEIR LUNCH IN HERE… and then, we were no longer whispering. (Whoa, lady, is it necessary to raise your voice?!) The parents were now looking at us as the special education teacher had to stop what she was saying to them because of the raise in the school psych’s voice.
Why were we even having a discussion about my pumping and my need to pump? I had let it go because she made it clear to me when I asked that I couldn’t go. I hadn’t said anything else.
Lesson 1: Tone is everything.
In my old school district I sat through all of these trainings about intent vs. impact. (What you intend may not always be the impact it has on the person receiving what your words/actions) Today this rang true for me. I’m not sure what she intended when she raised her voice, but holy crap the impact was total shock. I was taken aback by her tone and super confused. I felt like a bad guy; like I did something wrong by asking her to go pump during my break.
In all seriousness had I known that it was an IEP meeting I would have mentally prepared myself to not have a break. It wasn’t even about me not being able to eat lunch- whatever. But being able to pump? Not whatever. If you’ve ever breastfeed and felt the (non)awesomeness of being engorged, then you feel my pain. It kind of should be handled with a sense of urgency. Also, my biggest fear is my supply decreasing because I only get to pump two times a day- both of those times being during my breaks at work. Lunch & specials (PE/Art/Music/Library/Tech) time.
After the meeting, I tried, very calmly to explain to the school psych that I felt she’d gotten snippy with me and it was- in my opinion- unnecessary as I was just asking a question. (I used my ‘I’ statements because I wasn’t trying to point the finger) She got even more defensive in telling me that “we need to know about these things beforehand”.. I’m assuming “these things” refers to my need to pump. I told her that they made this meeting while I was on maternity leave and they could have checked my schedule to see that I had lunch at that time. I also told her that I was unaware that it was an IEP meeting and that I felt that wasn’t clearly communicated to me.
Lesson 2: Ask questions.
I can say that in regards to my part, I could have asked better questions. I learned that I should ask clarifying questions to make sure that I am aware of what type of meeting I’m walking into- especially when we, as humans, have a tendency to not always communicate well. Next time, I will ask questions.
Lesson 3: Remain Calm
I’m proud of myself for maintaining my temper. It could have gone way worse. I understand that maybe she doesn’t understand my need to pump… and that her sarcasm being the words “if you need to pump” may have reflected that ignorance.
But I’m gon’ learnz her y’all (southern speak for I’ll teach her) why I felt the way I felt.
So, I learned a few things today and I think the grown up thing for me to do is to try and re-approach her and explain my standpoint, what I feel could have been done differently on both her end and mine.
If she maintains her attitude and sarcasm and gets all bitchy-pants, I’ll include my boss in the conversation if necessary because I also know that legally I’m allowed to pump at work and any way it’s my damn break time. Come on. (That’s my only rant for this post)
Of course, I can always have my friend Miranda (Not Super… Just Mom) come to Colorado and “hulk smash” her, if necessary.
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