Friday, March 12, 2010

The ARD - Morale Was Good

According to Webster's, the definition of 'morale' is:
2a: the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand. b: a sense of common purpose with respect to a group: Esprit de corps.
That definition is unsatisfying.
Does anybody ever wonder about the morale of a basketball team that wins the Big East tournament or a rock band playing in front of a sold out stadium? They perform "tasks at hand" and have "a common purpose" but why aren't we concerned about their morale? I don't know but we're not. We're usually more worried about the morale of members of the military or employees at a struggling company. This disconnect is why Webster's definition misses the mark.
When I think of morale, I recall P.J. O'Rourke's definition from his 1993 book, Give War a Chance:
"Morale...means how well people are doing when they're not doing well at all."

See? Now that makes a lot more sense. Because no matter how good morale is in the middle of a war zone, there's a good chance that most of the soldiers would rather be someplace place else - if not anyplace else. Probably at that rock concert or watching the Big East tournament.
I wanted to review the definition of morale with you first to give yesterday's ARD meeting some context.
It was a good meeting and several factors contributed to that:
A. Robbie has experienced phenomenal progress over the past 12 months;
B. We'd read the evaluation report in advance so there were no bad surprises; and
C. This was the best ARD committee assembled to help Robbie since we entered Autism World.
C really shouldn't have been a surprise since we'd already spent a lot of time with most of the ARD members But it was the first time it felt like the team really gelled and each member finally "got" Robbie; they knew the subtleties of what worked and didn't work with him.
The only new member to the team was the diagnostician who completed Robbie's reevaluation (they only participate in the ARD's every three years). Considering her predecessor three years ago opened that meeting - the one where we learned of Robbie's diagnosis - with the pathologically stupid question, "What do you think we're going to tell you today?", the diagnostician really didn't have a high bar over which to leap. Nonetheless, she did an excellent job.
We'd battled anxiety, depression and sleepless nights during the week leading up to the ARD. It was a pretty awful week. Apparently, this is to be an annual occurrence for us (after three years, you'd have thought I would have noticed this pattern earlier). But now it's finally over. It went well and there won't be another one until next year nor another reevaluation until 2013. Smiles and high fives all around, right? Morale's good, right?
We're doing well when we're not really doing well at all. Given the choice, we'd rather have spent the afternoon at a rock concert or watching the Big East basketball tournament or pretty much anything else. But this is what we had to do and we'll enjoy our hard-fought victories as best we can; knowing that we'd have preferred not to have had to fight for them at all.


  1. NIce to see parents well informed about ARD meetings.. I'm a spec ed teacher and well... all the ARDS i'm in.. parents are 1. in denial 2. don't really know their rights..ever after we explain and give them a pamphlet ( i doubt they read it) 3. don't really care what happens to their kid as long as they pass. 4. ask when is their child going to grow out of it (they ask for all types of disabilities (ld, mr, au,ed, etc..etc..)

    Sooo glad you all are well informed!!

    As a teacher,, preping for ARDS is very time consuming we..(well I) make sure i have the child's best interest at hand!

    :) best of luck!

  2. Thanks for comment. I can't say I'm as informed as I should be - but I try to go into the ARDs with the attitude that these are gifts not entitlements. That usually helps set a good tone for the meetings. We're also very lucky to have a principal who gets it. That makes a big difference for everyone, including the teachers I suspect.