There comes a time in every special educator’s life when writing IEPs leads to feelings of being burned out. And trust me, IEP writing burnout is real.
The constant pressure to make sure your students’ needs are addressed in detail with the appropriate accommodations and interventions can weigh on even the most experienced of teachers.
So, what do you do when you are burned out?
We asked the inspiring teachers in our Facebook group, Mrs. D’s VIPs, to share their best advice, tips, and tricks for battling burn out and reigniting passion for writing IEPs.
Their suggestions ranged from the practical to the light-hearted, but all of them acknowledge the fact that teacher burn out is real. Read below to see their suggestions and check out the original post here.
IEP Burn Out? Here’s How to Make It Better
1. Start Early
Instead of waiting until the week before (or day of!) when the IEP is due, start early. Take a look at all of your IEPs for the year and create a schedule where you begin work on the reports a month in advance.
The more time you give yourself, the easier it is to manage your caseload and give each IEP the attention that it deserves.
2. Advocate for an IEP Season
Instead of worrying about IEPs all year long, suggest creating an IEP Season where all IEPs are written and meetings held within a two-month time period.
While those eight to 10 weeks will be intense, it means that you do not have to deal with that aspect of your job for the remainder of the school year.
3. Ask Gen Ed Teachers for Contributions
Sometimes having a narrative paragraph from a general education teacher about the student’s performance and behavior in the classroom can make your job a lot easier. Instead of trying to remember present level information for all of your students, you will have a supporting document that provides that glimpse into students’ progress. It makes writing the IEP easier and more accurate.
You can find a general ed survey (and a parent survey) in the IEP Meeting Toolkit.
4. Work Stays at Work
While it may be tempting to bring the IEPs home to work on, if you are feeling burned out and stressed, leave them at home.
If you need to stay an hour or so after school to get your work done, or come in an hour early, that is better than bringing it home. You need the separation between work and home life and not bringing paperwork home is the first step.
Teacher self care is very important, and this is also a great way to avoid teacher burnout.
5. Take Care of Yourself
Take the time to do something that energizes you like a walk, run, or yoga practice. If reading in your backyard hammock rejuvenates you, go for it.
And rest assured that sometimes a little chocolate and a glass of wine can be the perfect end to a perfectly stressful day. Taking care of yourself means that you are better able to take care of your family and your students.
As the saying goes, put your mask on first.
If you are facing IEP burn out know that you are not alone. You are not the only one who has felt it and are surely not the last one to ever feel that way. Manage your time the best that you can and have realistic expectations for yourself. You can (and will) get through this!
What tips or advice do you have for special education teachers or service providers who are feeling the IEP writing burn out? Share with us in the comments below!