IEP meetings can be daunting. Especially to parents. And even to veteran teachers.
From nerves and anxiety, to tears of happiness for progress made and unity of the team.
As the special education teacher, there are some things that we can do to be top notch prepared for anything… and ready to rock our next IEP meeting.
The list is broken down into 4 sections: before the meeting, bring to the meeting, during (or at) the meeting, and after the meeting.
Let’s get started!
Have a peer edit the IEP. Everyone makes mistakes and it’s better to catch them pre-meeting.
Send home a parent survey, and give the parents a call or email to discuss what will be talked about during the upcoming meeting.
- Avoid talking about placement prior to the actual IEP meeting though.
Send the general ed teachers a survey too.
Before the meeting even starts, the parents is typically waiting in the front office. Have a friendly, familiar face there to meet the parent and walk to the parent to the room where the meeting will be.
Supplies you might need:
Be prepared for parents to bring younger siblings with to the meeting. Have a puzzle or coloring book to occupy the younger child so the parent can focus on the meeting.
If you utilize Color Coded Student IEP Binders in your classroom, you’ll want to bring this with to your meeting.
- Any appropriate data and work samples
- Student’s cumulative file
- IEP drafts and copies
- Staff input
Have an agenda ready to go, and a copy available for each meeting attendee.
- Go through the IEP in order, and showcase it this way on the meeting agenda as well.
- You can also state the timeframe of the meeting (i.e., 30 minutes, 45 minutes), so everyone stays on track.
Start the meeting with a welcome message. You could also include a thankful message to parents for their continued support. Start the meeting on a positive note!
Then have everyone introduce themselves and their role in the child’s life. For example, “Hi! My name is Stephanie and I am [student’s name]’s special education teacher.”
- Have the child be part of the team. Even at the elementary level, it’s possible. Learn more about Student Led IEPs in this blog post.
Make sure everyone is part of the table… no one should be sitting on the outskirts of the room. We are a team.
- Something to keep in mind… have students sit with the teachers, instead of teachers on one side of the table and parents on the other side of the table.
State the reason for the meeting. Is it parent called? Annual ARD? Testing review? Placement change? Goal update? Why is everyone here in the meeting today.
- Is this an IEP meeting? Send the draft home prior to the meeting… and not the day before. Give the parent at least 3 full days to review the proposal(s). Give them an opportunity to get back to you with any concerns before the meeting, too.
- It’s also a really good idea to reach out to the parent prior to the meeting, regardless of purpose. Nothing is worse than coming into a meeting blind, as a teacher or a parent.
When talking about a student’s performance, always start with a positive… and make it a sandwich. Positive – Negative – Positive. Strength – Weakness – Strength.
- Having a difficult time finding a child’s strengths? Look harder. Try harder. EVERY child has multiple strengths.
- Make sure that you have data to backup goals and proposals. Student work is always a great addition to any meeting… just remember the sandwich. Show the positive and the negatives.
Share a story about the child. A positive story.
If you know ahead of time the meeting may be a difficult one, prep the school team before the meeting.
It might be a good idea to have a list of acronyms somewhere in the meeting. Make sure the parents understand the acronyms and what is being discussed. Grab a free acronym list here.
Tab parts of the printed IEP so you can easily find them. It may, also, be a wise choice to put tabs where you will want parents to sign. This helps so you don’t miss any sections or spots too, and everything gets covered.
After each “section” of the meeting, ask parents, “what questions/concerns do you have?”
- Also make sure you are listening to what the parent is saying and validate their concerns.
A day or two later (ya know, after giving the parents time to mentally recover and/or dissect how the meeting went), give the parents a call. Check in, show you care. See if they have any additional questions and let them know that you truly are there for them and their child.
Make copies of the finalized IEP for anyone that works with the child.
- You can also create an IEP snapshot or IEP brochure as an easy-to-grab-guide for general ed teachers and specialists to easily view important information.
Meetings are a part of any teacher’s life, and it is important that we don’t just wing it. #beprepared
Keep a positive mind set. You’ve got this!
And always remember that each year is different, and every IEP meeting is different. Don’t let one downhill meeting break you.
What tips or tricks do you have to share with other teachers to help their IEP meetings run smoothly? Let us know in the comments below!