While IEP meetings typically only come once a year, they are a vital part of student success. A well thought out IEP comes with a lot of work! However, in the end, the work is worth the reward. Regardless if you service students remotely or in person, a large part of holding a successful IEP meeting is collaboration and organization. Below we will briefly review some strategies to help you be on your way to holding a meaningful IEP meeting.
The Importance of Collaboration
Let’s start by discussing the importance of collaboration. An IEP concerns ALL stakeholders involved in a student’s educational success. This means, EVERYONE should be included in its planning – from teachers to parents, related service providers to therapists – anyone who attends the meeting should have input.
Here are a few ways you can create strong collaboration before the IEP meeting:
- Build rapport with parents/families prior to the IEP meeting.
- Communicate regularly with other staff about the student and their needs, successes, pitfalls, etc.
- Involve teachers when writing student goals – oftentimes, they spend a lot of time with the student and can give you valuable input.
- Communication should NOT stop after the IEP meeting. You should continue collaborating with all stakeholders; especially the parents.
While collaboration is vital to the IEP process, so is organization. Let’s be honest, it is A LOT of paperwork and can easily become overwhelming. To avoid being overwhelmed, let’s look at some ways we can be more organized when planning for the IEP meeting.
Organization is Key
So. Much. Paper. Most of us have been there (and if you haven’t, you will be): stacks of data, communication logs, service minute notes…the list goes on. This is why organization is key!
Let’s review some strategies for keeping out IEP meetings organized:
- Create a timeline at the beginning of the year based on your caseload. In the timeline for each student, you should include time for:
- Prep – Start prepping materials early! You may need to assess the student, collect data from another stakeholder, do a parent interview, etc.
- Goal Setting – Start thinking about student goals. Have they reached their benchmarks? Do they need new goals? Was the curriculum or skills from the last IEP helpful? How will you collect data to track progress?
- Special Factors – Are there any “special factors” that need to be considered?
- Collaboration – What information did you get from stakeholders? Are there concerns that need to be addressed?
- Meeting Prep – You will need to set an agenda and have all copies made of not only the IEP, but all data or any information used in decision making.
With all of this said, do be mindful that we not only do this because it’s what’s ethically right, but also it’s truly what’s in the best interest of the child. Yes, it’s a ton of work, but if you want your students to reach their goals, holding a meaningful and well thought out IEP meeting is important. If you are interested in learning more on this topic, download the comprehensive eBook on IEP Management.