We all make mistakes, but when you’re an IEP case manager those mistakes can feel overwhelming.
The good news? You’re not alone in having made mistakes. The better news? Here’s how to fix some of the most common ones!
Remember that your situation is always slightly different and unique from anyone else’s. What works for them may not be the best option in your situation. Think things through and don’t forget that we’re all human!
Fixing Common Mistakes Made by IEP Case Managers
Mistake #1: Got the Date Wrong
Have you ever had the lingering feeling you’re forgetting something? Could that something be an IEP meeting you’re supposed to be running? If so, you’re not alone! Jotting down the wrong date is not as uncommon as you’d think.
How to Fix It: In construction, they say measure twice, cut once. When it comes to writing down the IEP meeting date, check twice, then write!
Mistake #2: Forgot to Write the IEP
Chances are that you have more than one student on your caseload and that means that you have more than one IEP to write. Often, it’s many more IEPs to write! Sometimes it happens that you forget to write an IEP and don’t realize it until the last minute. It’s a mistake more than one teacher has made!
How to Fix It: Be honest about it and let your administrator know. You may need to reschedule the IEP meeting if you realize it the morning of. If it’s the night before, there’s still time to get it done before the morning meeting! Try using an organization system like The IEP Toolkit and tracking when all of your IEPs are due.
Mistake #3: Wrote Goals for the Wrong Grade Level
How is it possible to write goals for the wrong grade level? Well, when you’re writing at IEP at the beginning of the school year it’s actually pretty easy! Since the majority of IEPs are written at the end of the year, it’s typical to write the goals for the following grade level.
How to Fix It: If you notice it before the IEP meeting, make adjustments. If you notice it at the IEP meeting, explain the error and correct it as you go through the document with the other IEP team members.
Mistake #4: Forgot to Invite the Parents
You sit down at the IEP Meeting and everyone starts looking at the clock just waiting for the family to arrive. 10-minutes later you realize that you forgot to invite them to the IEP meeting! (Again, the IEP Toolkit would have been a huge help in remembering to do this!)
How to Fix It: Families have to be part of the IEP team and be invited to the meeting, so that means you’re going to need to reschedule.
Mistake #5: Communication Errors
When English is not a family’s first language, it’s always a good idea to have an interpreter. Since inviting one is not all that common for most IEP meetings, it’s easy to overlook. If you forgot to schedule an interpreter, you’re not alone!
How to Fix It: If the family speaks a language that someone in the building also speaks, ask them to translate for you in a pinch. If no one speaks their first language, it’s a good idea to reschedule the meeting at a time when an interpreter can be present.
Mistake #6: Typos
Let’s face it, we all make typos. Even auto-correct and documents that are supposed to self-check can be fraught with typos.
How to Fix It: Highlight the typo, fix it as soon as you’re able, and move on. Typos happen.
Mistake #7: Forgot to Get Feedback from Gen Ed Teachers
Has it happened to you? You sit down to write the IEP and suddenly realize that you never requested feedback from the student’s general ed teachers! If so, you’re not the only one that it has happened to. Don’t worry, there’s still time to collect it (unless you’re writing it the night before!).
How to Fix It: Create a Google Form to gather the data and send it out to the student’s teachers as soon as possible!
Mistake #8: Forgetting Resources
Resources are a teacher’s best friend, but when you forget you have them to use, they’re not so helpful! It has happened more than once that a special ed resource or curriculum has been forgotten or tucked away never to be seen again.
How to Fix It: When you find the curriculum or resource, put it up front! Place it somewhere that you’ll lay eyes on it every day. Then, when you are able to, use it with your students!
Mistake #9: Not Building Relationships with Students and Families
It’s time to write the IEP and you get to the strengths section and are stumped. It’s then that you realize that you haven’t spent time getting to know your student and develop a relationship with them.
How to Fix It: Talk with the student and reach out to the family. Apologize for taking so long to reach out to them and express how excited you are to work together with them to help the student. While you may not have as deep of a connection with them as you would have if you started in the beginning, most families will be open to developing a relationship with someone who they feel truly cares about their child – no matter when they call.
Mistake #10: Being Too Hard on Yourself
The biggest mistake that special ed teachers and IEP case managers make is that they are too hard on themselves. There is a lot of pressure in the job and sometimes that pressure can be overwhelming.
How to Fix It: Take a deep breath and let it it out. Remind yourself that you are human and everyone makes mistakes. Learn from what went askew and try to do better next time. Things will never be perfect and that’s okay! Forgive yourself!
It’s easy to think that you are alone in making mistakes on IEPs or with special ed students, but the reality is that we all make mistakes. Whether you are a first year teacher or a 22 year veteran, mistakes happen daily and that’s okay.
What do you do to combat mistakes you have made and how do you forgive yourself for making them? Share with us in the commennts!