Prep for the Meeting
Convene the School Staff in Advance
School members can meet before the IEP to talk about any changes or concerns they may have before the meeting without the parent. Be careful though, to not predetermine anything that requires IEP team decisions. Sped law says that you can have informal, unscheduled, or conversations on issues like teaching methods, lesson planning, or service coordination without the parent.
Organize your Data
Be a Data Nerd. Collect, collect, collect it. A wise man once said, “You can never have enough data.” ha-ha, I don’t exactly know who that wise man was, but I bet he worked in special ed! If the parents indicate a concern like their student made no progress in Math and in your head you are like….No way, My data says, nope. Make a line graph. Then plot that data. A graph can show visual people what all your data here and there and on this and that page, and on this observation, and anecdotal record, and informal assessment, can’t.
Create an Agenda
Do not be Afraid to Brainstorm with Parents!
Set a Time Limit for the Meeting
everyone. Model active listening. It’s my pet peeve when a parent is telling us a story about their child, and two team members are whispering back and forth. The parent is taking the time to tell you something unique about that child, you may not already be privy to the information that she is relaying. Talking over or through them is just rude. Don’t do it. Lastly, call the parents by their first and last name. Don’t say, “Sally’s mom,” or, “Mom says that Sally does this.” Say, “Jennifer says that Sally is doing well with…”It’s just respectful, and it shows the family they aren’t just another mom/dad/family that you have to deal with.
At the end of the day, you need to be able to still be confident in your abilities. Sometimes IEP meetings can end up being upsetting or make us question our skills. We all make mistakes. Especially in spelling and writing the draft copies. It happens. Life happens. I once had a teacher who wrote an entire section of the IEP saying “She can do this, She can do that..” The student was a boy. The teacher was SOO embarrassed. She realized she had been talking to the PT about another student when she was trying to write the IEP, so the wrong Pronoun was a byproduct of not paying attention while typing and talking. Remember we all have bad days, but good days will come, so be like that cool kid above and say ” I rocked this IEP!” Because chances are you may have!Happy IEP Meeting Planning!