All special educators must either lead or participate in Individual Education Plan meetings. It can be a daunting task but with some preparation it doesn’t have to be. Read on for some tips to support successful IEP meetings.
IEP Meetings – Prior to the Day
Preparation is key to the overall success of the meeting. So where do we begin? The following are some tips to support the lead up to the day.
- know what is expected for IEP’s from the school, district, area, board
- collate and review current data
- discuss potential goals with the team in advance
- consider the environment where the meeting will take place; book a room if necessary; organise an online meeting time and provide link for the whole team including family
- invite other key stake holders who may need to attend the meeting – community/departmental agency representatives
- offer a range of times for parents (and days if able – in our school it is not an option as all are done on one day)
- work on parent relationships prior to the meeting to decrease anxiety on the day
- offer for parents to bring a support person to the meeting (particularly important if their is just one primary carer)
- send home a document for parents to jot down strengths of their child; areas of concern; priorities for their child; other
- have an interpreter organised if required
IEP Meetings – On the Day
There should be no surprises on the day if the preparation is put in place prior to the IEP meeting. It should be a wonderful, sharing experience. A place where the team comes together to support parents to come up with individual goals for the year based on the data presented by all parties. The following are tips for IEP meetings on the day.
- Give administration/reception a copy of appointment times including the child’s name and the parent names
- Have a pitcher of water and some light snacks – offer coffee or tea on arrival as able
- keep the vibe professional but relaxed; take care with positioning around the table and be aware to keep open body language
- have tissues on hand just in case
- start with some positives of the students
- have some photos or video or art with anecdotal documentation of what is occurring, to share with family
- be open to parent priorities; encourage them in a supportive manner to share their thoughts
- have one person from the IEP team scribe and time keep so all others can give full attention
- stick to the allocated time for the meeting
- set the goals
- finish on a positive
IEP meetings are not always as successful as they could be. Preparation is so important. Get to know the students and their families, the other team members and collect and summarise the data. Come up with some goals in advance. I like to divide the information within four categories: social emotional/personal, communication, academic and other. For more tips and some support for writing goals check out this fantastic web page and site. Keep the meetings friendly and professional and you will be in great position to have a successful and productive day.
If you are looking for preference assessment ideas to support IEP goal settings I invite you to check out this article.