IEPs, or Individualized Education Programs, are plans to help students with special needs succeed in your classroom. These plans are designed and put in place by the IEP team. Once per year, or more often if the child’s family asks, the IEP team meets to review the child’s IEP. Here’s what you should do to prepare for an IEP meeting.
Since IEP meetings only take place once a year, preparing is really a process that takes place throughout the school year. You can’t cram for it the week ahead of time. Luckily, preparing for an IEP meeting is mostly about making sure nothing is falling through the cracks.
Stick to the Plan
The main things you need to do ahead of an IEP meeting are to (1) stick to the plan and (2) record progress. As I wrote in my post All About IEPs, sticking to the plan is important because it helps the student be successful AND because it’s the law! You can get in big trouble if you decide not to bother with it.
Recording progress is the paperwork you’ll need to show for the IEP meeting. The IEP form itself should tell you how each goal is measured. Though you should be able to work with the child on all his goals, some goals may be measured by other people (like a speech therapist, for instance). Talk with your team early in the year to figure out which goals you are in charge of measuring. The IEP may also tell you how often progress should be measured (it might be monthly or quarterly, for instance).
The other part of preparing for an IEP meeting comes down to building relationships. An IEP team really should be that–a team! Parents and family members can be very anxious or stressed during IEP meetings. This is because they want the best for their kids! 🙂 Families want to know that their kids are being loved and helped to grow. Work to get to know the student and be able to talk about his or her personality and strengths in the classroom. Communicate regularly with the family, not just this one time during the year! That way you have a relationship to work from. Build relationships with your co-workers and learn to solve problems together. Be a voice for family support and teamwork throughout the year, and that will carry over to your IEP meeting, too!