Navigating IEP meetings can be stressful and time-consuming. From assembling a tailored team to drafting the lengthy document, the IEP process can be a nerve-racking prospect for teachers. As an educator, your role in the IEP team is paramount. Effective IEPs give students who are struggling the opportunity to grow and find success. In this guide, we have outlined some tips for teachers to help those IEP meetings to go smoothly.
1. Understand your role
As a teacher, you are an integral part of your school and your students’ educational success. With your frequent and direct work with the students, you become a voice and educational advocate for them. As part of an IEP team, your input and suggestions are essential to forming a successful IEP.
2. Do your homework
If you are a seasoned teacher, then you are likely familiar with the IEP process. Because every IEP meeting and plan is tailored for a specific student, however, you will always need to consider the nuances. Get advice from other members of the team about the student’s interests and learning style(s). Talk with fellow educators about ways to positively interact with the IEP team. Whether you are one of the student’s regular teachers or you are a special education teacher, you will want to inquire about what is expected of you at the meeting.
3. Keep a classroom log
Keep a daily log of the student’s participation in specific activities, including organizational skills, social interactions, and any behavioral, emotional, or otherwise meaningful instances. This allows you to assess if there are any patterns in the student’s progress and performance. At the IEP meeting, you and the team can use this log to formulate programs or revise routines to suit the student better.
4. Discussion topics
Prepare a list of questions and topics for discussion. Bring your concerns if you notice any changes in the student’s behavior, progress, or overall disposition.
5. Assemble your materials
Bring samples of the student’s work, which can include assignments or tests. With these materials, highlight the areas in which the student is lagging behind and note if they seem to struggle with particular types of learning like taking tests or self-study.
6. Take notes
During the meeting, jot down important notes to review later. You may even want to record the meeting so you can go back and clarify anything later on. Write down any questions or concerns raised during the meeting along with the any presented solutions. This way, you have a reference if there are any issues with the IEP later on.
7. Introduce your classroom
Bring everyone up-to-speed on what goes on in your classroom. Outline the class rules, daily schedule, and goals. Note your unique classroom strategies, like classroom setup, discipline management, activities, and team-building exercises.
Discuss how you evaluate your students grade-wise, which includes outlining how you tally the grade between homework, exams, group work, participation, et cetera. Specific to the student in question, bring your grade book and prepare a general assessment of where the student seems to be excelling and where he or she is having difficulty.
9. Anticipate emotions
IEP teams exist for a common goal: to improve the educational success of the student. That said, it is easy to let emotions get the better of us. IEP meetings can be particularly emotional for parents because they might feel like a “fish-out-of-water,” feel like they do not have control, or are hesitant about a particular course of action. Try to anticipate and understand what their concerns will be. Let them know that everyone is on the same side and that everyone has an important role in the IEP process.
Keep the lines of communication between yourself and the IEP team open. Talk with the parents about ways to get in touch with them and let them know how they can communicate with you.