I See a Tale of Two Dylans.

This year’s IEP meeting for Dylan was a very popular place to be.

Teachers came from every corner of the school. Some of them have had Dylan as a student for more than a year. Some of them taught him last semester and weren’t likely to teach him again. Some of them had only taught him for two weeks.

But they all showed up at Dylan’s IEP meeting. Administrators and special education administrators had to get up and find more chairs. The room was so crowded, Bill and I just sat, in awe, and stared for a moment.

Dylan wasn’t the slightest bit interested. In fact, he seemed a little annoyed at all the attention.

But we all sat, and we listened to the reports.

The first teacher started with a thought that became a theme throughout the meeting. “Forgive the analogy,” he said. “But essentially, I see a tale of two Dylans,” he said. “I see the Dylan who’s bright and capable and enthusiastic and smart. And then I see the Dylan who gets overwhelmed and shuts down, and doesn’t turn in his work.”

Five additional teachers said virtually the same thing. They all saw in Dylan huge potential; they also saw it frequently going unrealized.

The words “organization” and “communication” were mentioned many times. Teachers said that he simply didn’t seem to know when things were due, even when they told him repeatedly. Even when they wrote it down on the board, day after day. Even when they put it online so he could check – and get – the assignments at home. Even when they said the same thing to Dylan, day after day, and received acknowledgement.

But the work rarely materializes. And it almost never materializes on the day it’s due.

Dylan is now under a strict 1.5-hour study time rule at home. He is going to do this time – supervised and timed, because we already learned that we can’t trust him to be unsupervised or untimed. He’s going to do it five days a week, with or without the whining and complaining and moaning that comes with it.

In addition, I came up with an idea (thanks partially to ADDitude online magazine) to make Dylan accountable for talking to his teachers, for finding out what’s due every day. I created a “signature sheet” that Dylan can use every day, with every teacher, to have them sign off that his work has been completed and turned in.

Everyone was on board with the idea – except Dylan. During his first day with the signature sheet, he came home with two signatures. The next day, he had zero signatures. The day after that, he had one.

This is with the teachers knowing, every day, that there is a signature sheet, and that he should be asking them to sign it.

In the meeting he said, “When the teacher says, ‘The homework is page six,’ I don’t think I should go up to them right after that and say, ‘What’s the homework?”

“I think the teachers would prefer you did that instead of just not turning it in,” I said. All of the teachers bobbed their heads in agreement.

Everyone wants Dylan to succeed.

Now Dylan just has to decide to do that.

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