If you're a special education teacher, then you know that IEP meetings can be a bit daunting. They can be long and hard to prepare for, but they are definitely worth it in the end.
Whether you have 10 or 40 IEP meetings to attend this year, they can be a little overwhelming.
It breaks my heart that colleges don't do a better job in training us special education teachers on how to run effective IEP meetings. For most of my first year, I looked like a deer in the headlights. It was embarrassing.
In this blog post, we will discuss 3 tips for having a successful IEP meeting. Follow these tips, and you'll be able to make the most of your meeting with parents and students!
If you are looking for more information on how to write outstanding IEP goals, you can read more about that here!
1. Come Prepared
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many people come into IEP meetings without all of the information they need. Make sure you have gathered all of the data and documentation that you will need to present at the meeting. This includes things like test scores, progress reports, and any other evaluations that have been done.
Make sure that you are pre-conference with any of the student's team members as well. Collaborating with general education teachers can provide you with a wealth of information as well.
You may also want to get information from the parents beforehand as well. This includes things like parent surveys and questionnaires.
2. Start with Student Strengths:
Start the meeting with introductions and move right into student strengths. As a mom with a special needs son, I cannot tell you how many IEP meetings that I have been to where they jump right to all of his deficits and it totally breaks my mommy-heart.
I know sometimes it can be hard to find the strengths, but be prepared and come up with lots of positive things to share about the student. It will go over a lot better when you have to start talking about all the needs the student has.
In addition, make sure that you are clear and concise. When you are presenting information, make sure that you are doing so in a way that is easy for everyone to understand. Use clear language and avoid jargon. Also, make sure that you are staying on topic and not going off on tangents. It can be easy to get sidetracked during an IEP meeting, but try to stay focused on the task at hand.
3. Send Home the DRAFT:
So many times I have had to reach out to teachers, as a special needs mom, and ask for the IEP draft ahead of the meeting. It is best practice to send the rough draft home at least 3 days prior to the meeting in case the parents have any questions or additions.
I always have a meeting before the meeting with my parents. This allows us to go into detail if they have questions about anything and allows the real meeting to not last too long. Also, be prepared to answer questions. The people who are attending the IEP meeting will likely have questions for you. Be prepared to answer those questions in a way that is helpful and informative. If you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t be afraid to say so. It’s better to admit that you don’t know something than to try to fake it.
Here is a little Bonus tip!
Get organized with a teacher binder so that when you show up to your IEP meetings you don't look unprofessional and disorganized!
When I was first starting out, I was looking for a teacher binder that fit me and my style and I couldn't ever find one, so I spent months creating the perfect binder for my special education classroom.
You can grab this Editable Teacher Binder here!
Whether you are a veteran teacher or a brand new teacher, I hope these 3 quick tips helped you with your IEP meetings.