TEAM -- ON BEING GREATER THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS
Two week ago the Detroit Pistons – yes, those Pistons – snuck into the national picture by winning the NBA championship over the powerful, superstar laden Los Angeles Lakers. We let the moment pass without comment. Today we atone for our oversight.
The 2004 World Champion Pistons are the picture of what we hope to think and feel when we say the word “team.” No superstars. No super egos. Nobody too big to take on the role and to put it out there for the others on the team. Success is measured by team results. The team wins. The team loses. The great team – where the whole truly is greater than the sum of its parts. The Pistons beat the Lakers by believing in themselves as a team, and by each team member playing his part for the team. What more could anybody want? What better picture of “team” in 2004 than the Pistons?
We have seen teams at play in many areas of our lives over these past many years. Our family was a team, especially when Jessica was in crisis. We all knew our roles and scrambled to meet them on a moment’s notice. Then there was Jessica’s IEP Team: Jessica, who lived the creed “nothing about me without me,” the committed school professionals, Jessica’s creative friends and classmates, her sisters and us, and community members with limitless ideas. The team’s combined vision always seemed to transcend our highest hopes, especially in Jessica’s later years.
We have seen “team” at work with Our Children Left Behind. We did not start things out as a team. We evolved. We did not set out to make a championship. We set out to make a difference. We have done so only because we have worked as a team. Many other groups and collections of people and groups have formed teams around the IDEA reauthorization process, and through teamwork have made a difference in how the process has gone. OCLB has teamed up with these other groups to become even more effective.
Teamwork has made it possible for families to participate more equally in the IDEA reauthorization battle. We already know that our teams have made a difference. We know 6.5 million children and their families would have fared much worse without teamwork.
It seems to us that the IEP team concept, while pure, has in practice split into two competing teams. Somewhere in the process the purpose for the teamwork—developing and implementing effective, individualized education programs for students with disabilities – has taken a back seat or fallen by the wayside.
In the end, we favor IEP teamwork that it makes it easier, rather than harder, to form teams and practice great teamwork in the education of students who have disabilities. The IEP team is the core planning and execution unit for every student. Changes to IDEA should improve the team concept and atmosphere within the team, rather than further driving wedges that split the team into two competing teams. If IDEA must be changed, those changes must make it easier to work as a single team for the student, rather than making it more difficult.
The Pistons won a national championship by staying focused on team goals and by forming a work ethic that expected each team member would contribute his fair share. We want the same thing for our children’s IEP teams. We also want the same outcome – that every student be a champion. To us, that is what teamwork, and IDEA, is all about.
Our Children Left Behind [OCLB] was created and is owned/operated by parent volunteers (Shari Krishnan, Tricia & Calvin Luker, Sandy Alperstein, and Debi Lewis). Permission to forward, copy, and/or post this article is granted provided that it is unedited and attributed to the author(s) and www.ourchildrenleftbehind.com. For more about OCLB or to share information, please contact parentvolunteer@....
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