In the world of special education, and with our exceptional students, we all understand the importance of prioritizing IEPs (Individualized Education Programs). Preparing IEPs is when teachers and special education directors go over the student’s progress from the current year and look toward the year ahead.
Preparing IEPs increases the workload for the Special Education team and requires extra diligence, especially when your IEP is highly specialized, such as a Behavioral IEP Plan. The key is to be prepared for each IEP meeting! There are many ways to do this, and one surefire way to start planning is to head to your daily planner or calendar to get organized and ready.
Here are 4 ways to get organized for your IEPs
Get those dates scheduled:
You may or may not be in charge of setting up the IEP meetings for your student. This all depends on who the case manager is and how many other members of the team there are. No matter what, you’ll need to make sure to get the dates for ALL of your student’s meetings on the calendar. This seems so simple, but seeing when they are on the calendar ahead of time helps you know when to have documents ready, what dates you need to find a sub or reschedule a session/class, and, of course, to know when the meeting is, so you can be on time.
Plan for make up sessions and subs:
If you are going to be in a lot of meetings in the upcoming months, you will most likely be missing some time in your class. This can make it difficult to get organized for your IEPs. There will be some meetings held before or after school, but most likely, there will be quite a few during the school day. Since you have the dates marked on your calendar, you can plan accordingly. Reach out to see if you can find coverage or a sub for the times you are in the meeting. If you are holding therapy or small group sessions, you will probably need to look at making up those missed sessions. You can look toward that calendar again to see when you’ll be able to fill in the gaps, or where you’ll be needing to ask for additional help.
Make time for paperwork:
IEPs are the biggest school document, which is why there is so much time spent planning and organizing for your IEPs. They inform you and the team of everything you will be working on for your student. This means you’ll need time to complete and update this paperwork fully. And if you have more involved IEPs, like a Behavioral IEP Plan, it can take up even more time. Look for times that you can schedule in to work on your IEP updates. It helps to start this a little early, so you can be caught up and have space in your schedule for additional IEP paperwork once those meetings and make-up sessions are scheduled. Many teachers and therapists end up staying after school to complete these. This might be what you end up doing as well, but make sure to keep this in balance, setting a clear end time for your day when you do stay later.
A platform, such as E-Therapy’s STAR platform, can also help you make the most of your paperwork time. It houses all the data for your sessions, so you can look at goal charts, pull data and percentages quickly, and really see how your students are progressing toward their goals all year long. This can be a huge timesaver when it comes to preparing your IEP.
Give yourself some space:
One way to get prepared and feel like you are organized for your IEPs, is to have everything ready with some time to spare. This way, if a document needs to be corrected or edited, or there is a piece missing, you’ll have plenty of time to get it finished. Aim to turn in your portion of the IEP paperwork several days before the scheduled date, so that the rest of the IEP team can review the material prior to the day of the meeting.
It’s a busy time of year, but you can accomplish all of your IEP preparations feeling ready for each one. Try these tips and feel more organized for your IEPs all year long.