Have you ever, as a professional or parent, walked into an IEP meeting room and felt like it was inviting and welcoming?
I can say as a veteran teacher, most times IEP meetings are held in conference rooms that are stagnant, bland, and very unwelcoming… and not just for parents.
And as a veteran special education teacher, I’ve sat through many an IEP meeting – leading me to one of my passions: building positive collaboration between parents and teachers.
Now you might be thinking, “Stephanie, what does an IEP meeting room have to do with collaboration?”
Let’s think of it as body language.
If you meet someone or come in contact with someone and their body language is screaming, “I don’t want to be here, I’d rather be alone, you’re in MY house and I’d rather not want you near me” – you are going to read all of that body language and feel unwelcome. And I don’t know about you, but if I felt that vibe, I’d be very closed off and not want to talk to this person.
Now if you meet someone and their body language is screaming, “I am so excited to see you, welcome to our space that we’re building together, I am so thankful you’re here!” – you are going to read all of that body language and feel welcome. You might hug this person or shake hands, you’ll probably be smiling, and you will feel more open and willing to be there.
It’s no different with the vibe you get when you walk into a room. Like hospitals and doctor’s offices, most IEP meeting rooms are sterile. Sterile = not welcoming (in most cases).
So how do you make a co-working, co-meeting space welcoming when it is shared by an entire school and not just used for IEP meetings?
I’m so glad you asked.
Enter IEP Meeting Bulletin Boards.
Create an inviting, engaging, and inclusive IEP meeting room place for all IEP team members.
How to Prep the Bulletin Boards
Here are some supplies you might need:
- Bulletin board paper OR Trifold Poster Board
- Bulletin board borders (all of mine are from Lakeshore Learning)
- Glue – Liquid | Stick
- Colored paper
Now – the other day in my IG stories I asked how y’all feel about bulletin boards. The majority of you are with me on not liking bulletin boards in general (or hating putting them together – I love the end result!!) 😂 which is why I prepped all of these on a trifold poster board so I only ever have to prep them once!
I also prepped this on the trifold poster board so it can be mobile, as many IEP meeting rooms change depending upon room availability. With a movable bulletin board, you can take it with you on your IEP Meeting Cart and have an inviting space in any room for any IEP meeting!
You could also prep this in a school common area or hallway so that everyone sees it.
Prepping the bulletin boards on a trifold poster board is also kind of genius because I remember as a classroom teacher always having to take down all boards and decor at the end of every year. If you prep these on poster board… you can save the entire thing for years to come. I’m all about working smarter, not harder.
Where and How Do I Use Bulletin Boards in IEP Meeting Rooms?
One question you might have is where do I put these in the IEP meeting room, especially if it’s a mobile bulletin board or on a trifold poster board?
You’ve got options, my dear teacher friend. You’ve got options.
Option 1 – set up the trifold poster board on a table, chair, or on the floor. Completely up to you! As long as it’s visible by the team, you’re good to go.
Option 2 – Tape or hang them on the wall (this is what I do). Command strips are great to make this happen.
If you use Command Option 1, you can easily hole punch the two top corners of the trifold poster board and hang it during the IEP meeting. If you use Command Option 2, save the sticker peel papers so when you take it off the wall at the end of the meeting, you can cover up the sticky strip and reuse it! If you use Command Option 3, you can have a designated spot on the wall (and velcro would work great in this instance too!)
You can keep the mobile bulletin boards on your IEP meeting cart too!
To see how to use a bulletin board, let’s take a look at each of the 9 in the bundle.
Words of Wisdom – Use the speech bubbles to have school personnel or individuals from IEP teams put tips, trick, and/or advice to share with other families throughout the IEP process.
For the speech bubbles, I laminated them so team members can use a dry erase marker to write their advice. The dry erase marker can easily be erased off of the lamination with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and then you can reuse the speech bubbles.
Rising to Meet All Students’ Potential – As IEP teams, we need to work together and collaborate to rise to meet all students’ potential… and this display shows just that.
T.E.A.M. – Together as IEP team members we have to work together and collaborate and this display reminds teams to do just that.
Transition – This bulletin board is meant to be a resource center for IEP teams to access for transition services and supports within the school and the community, and work and volunteer opportunities for students.
Tiny Seeds Grow Mighty Trees – Remind IEP teams that it’s okay to take small steps, and on the same day you plant the seed is not when you see the growth – similar to setting goals and writing IEPs. One step at a time!
My IEP Team – IEP teams are full of many different people who all have different roles. Use this display to share who is on the IEP team and what their role is at the meeting. You can use the name tag tents so no one forgets a team member’s name (I like to laminate these and reuse them with dry erase markers. The dry erase marker can easily be erased off of the lamination with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.
Information Center – This special education information center display can be in a central office, in an IEP meeting room, or in a common school area (like a hallway). There are lots of pockets to choose from to share information and have it all in one central location.
Teamwork Makes the Dream Work – Create an inviting and engaging IEP meeting room place for all IEP team members with this bulletin board. Together as IEP team members we have to work together and collaborate and this display reminds teams to do just that.
Why Should I Use Bulletin Boards in IEP Meeting Rooms?
Attending an IEP meeting as a parent can be a scary and emotional experience. Parents want to make sure that their children are given every opportunity to succeed, and they are a vital part of a child’s IEP team. And teachers are no different – we all want the same things for the child!
It’s our job as educators to make parents feel heard and welcomed and to let them know that they are an important part of their child’s team.
By creating a more inviting space for the entire IEP team, you are welcoming each IEP team member to the table. Think back to the body language analogy used earlier. Those who feel welcomed are more likely to participate, and with IEPs – participation from all team members is vital!
How do you make an IEP meeting room more inviting? Tell us in the comments below!