Individualized Education Plans (IEP) are required for any student receiving accommodations/alterations for the education standards. A 504 Plan is required for any student receiving accommodations that help them reach the standards. Both of these plans require meetings to check up on goals and progress. Although some people think this meeting is only for special education teachers, it is not! Administrators, pathologists, and general education teachers alike need to attend IEP meetings. If you have a student with an IEP, you will attend this meeting! So, we want to provide you with some tips and tricks for preparing for effective IEP Meetings.
1. Make an agenda
Agendas will allow everyone to know when it is their turn to share thoughts on the progress and goals of the students! It will allow the meeting to flow smoothly and be more productive.
All team members should be notified of the IEP meeting beforehand and be told what they need to bring! Whereas this is the IEP team lead's job, if you haven't been notified as a general education teacher (and you know you should have an IEP meeting coming up), ask the SPED teacher! Take action and collaborate with one another so everyone is on the same page.
3. Compliment Sandwich
I know, a compliment sandwich sounds funny... but here is what it is. When you need to bring up a weakness or challenge that a child is facing, place it between two positives or compliments about the child! That will help you focus on the positives while still addressing the negatives.
4. Be Compassion Driven
It is easy to get caught up in making goals and talking about a student and how to help them succeed... but, remember, this is a child! Be loving and personal when talking about the situation and understanding that a child is a child. We do want them to succeed, but that should be driven by compassion and love for that child.
5. Bring Work Samples
Bringing work samples from the student doing so will provide evidence for suggestions you make. This also may help the parent and other IEP team members better understand the educational situation of the student you are writing the IEP for. Following this tip demonstrates that you are prepared and ready to help!
6. Include the Child
If the specific situation allows it, include the child in their own IEP meeting! This will teach the child to advocate for themselves as well as understand what accommodations they are allowed. Each situation is different though so this may not always be the best option!
7. Make SMART Goals
I know you've heard of SMART goals before! The special education teachers will have received training and a lot of practice on how to write goals for a students' IEP, but having SMART goals is a good rule of thumb! When making suggestions, think... is this specific? measurable? attainable? relevant? time oriented? SMART?
8. Acknowledge the Expertise of the Parent/Guardian
Although the parent/guardian you are working with may not be an expertise in making IEPs and evaluating accommodations, they are experts of their children! They are with their child just as much, if not more, than you are. Take their opinion into consideration and make sure they know that they are appreciated. This will ease any tension during the meeting and also help you foster a great parent-teacher relationship.
9. Be fully present
We know that you have a lot on your mind as a teacher, but it is important to be fully present when in an IEP meeting. It shows the other members of the IEP and the parents that you truly care. It can also give you ideas of how you could help some of your other students! Focus on the task at hand.
10. Be confident
You are a trained educator! Be confident in your knowledge of the student and what might help them! Yes, it is true that you always need to be understanding of others' suggestions, but don't think that they make you any less of an amazing educator. You can do this!
For more information on IEP meeting tips and tricks, check out the following websites:
IEP Meeting Tips and Tricks
5 Tips for Successful 504 or IEP Meetings
Tips for Smooth and Positive IEP Meetings
5 Tips for an Effective IEP Meeting
Keep up with other suggestions on how to become a more prepared educator by reading our other blog posts! Interested in becoming a teacher? Check out education.byu.edu to see where you can start your path to becoming an educator.