As educators, we need to make sure that we are coming to the IEP table with all information and the data to back it up. This time of the year can be the most stressful time for many teachers and parents.
When you attend an IEP meeting you are representing the school not yourself. If you have a good relationship with the parent of your student, you are also representing them to help them get their voice heard to the rest of the team.
But many teachers, as well as parents, come to the table not ready to discuss or represent a student’s interests. Instead, they are focused on what has happened in the past and trying to get their point across. At the IEP table, we should have two goals.
Obtain quality inclusion special education services, that is going to build upon the student’s self-advocacy and interests.
Build upon the healthy working relationships with all school personal.
The following are 4-tips that can help you be more successful at the IEP table.
Tip 1: Make a long-term plan for the student’s education and the future.
When I go into IEP meetings, I ask myself what are my students interests. What do they enjoy? What things have they told me that they would like to do when they grow up.
From there, I ask myself, as an adult what skills do I need to have to be able to do that. I then begin to develop a plan that details what skills my student needs to know, what skills he needs to acquire to prepare him for further education. What skills he needs to acquire employment. And what skills they need for independent living.
Making a plan will help you stay focused, anticipate problems and prepare for the future. Not all plans are set in stone, so as a teacher you have to be proactive and realize that plans change.
The plan should also include any behavioural and social-emotional supports that the student may need to be successful.
Tip 2: Come to the table with your data and it is analyzed.
Data is so important. If you are trying to gain an additional service for a student, you need to bring the data with you to the meeting. Stating that a student needs a service, but you have not documented the number of times a student within a period that a student is off-task, or is aggressive to others is not going to give the team enough data to discuss if there is a trend.
Are you using data effectively? Does the data tell a story at first glance? Does your team know how to analyze your classroom data and see the trends?
Tip 3: Set high expectations.
If you do not ensure that your student is learning the skills they need to be an independent, self-sufficient community member. It is going to be harder for them to catch up. Low expectations lead to low achievement and more behavioural challenges in the classroom.
Tip 4: Keep your emotions under control
Emotions are likely to be high at an IEP meeting. Look at the parent’s perspective, they are coming to a meeting with 4-6 people and from their perspective, it may seem like the school is against their child.
When a parent learns that their child is struggling and their behaviours have increased despite the interventions that are in place, they might become defensive. If you as the teacher are frustrated about the challenges you are experiencing, the parent is also facing these challenges as well just in a different aspect.
Behaviours do not just occur at school, they also occur at home as well.
Do you need support in making sure that all your T’s are crossed and I’s dotted in your paperwork? Then you need to get on my calendar now.
This time of the year is the busiest for me and testing season is right around the corner. If you are unsure if you need my assistance at this time, then just send me a message or schedule a quick meeting to discuss your top 3 concerns.
Let’s get things right before the team meets at the table, so your requests for a student do not get denied and you have the data to back up what you are saying.