Tips for Smooth & Positive IEP Meetings

Tips for IEP meetingsIEP meetings can be stressful for teachers and parents, but a little pre-planning can make IEP meetings go smoother and more positive!
1) Start each IEP meeting by sharing POSITIVE things about the student. 
IEP meetings naturally include a lot of conversation about a student's needs or what the student still needs to learn/ work on that might sound negative. So start every IEP meeting with something positive about the student! Share a sweet or funny story about the student from the last few weeks, share about on a new skill the student has learned, just make sure that you really focus on starting the meeting with a positive and continuing to share positives throughout the meeting.

I like to fill out a little "What we love about ___." before IEP meetings and I even have therapists and/or paraprofessionals fill it out too! It's a fun way to ensure that the entire team is included and the parent can even take the paper home!

2) Schedule time to talk to general ed teacher prior to meeting.
Most general education teachers have been apart of dozens of IEP meetings. However, many of them will likely tell you that they don't know their role during IEP meetings. I've encountered this numerous times, so I always make sure I take time prior to IEP meetings to talk with general education teachers about their roles during IEP meetings. Make sure general ed teachers know exactly what you need/ expect from them. Explain to general ed teachers what type of questions families might ask them at the meeting, what kind of data/ student work would be helpful to bring, what they should be ready to share at the meeting, etc. so they can feel as prepared as possible.

I typically ask my general education teachers to bring and share the following at IEP meetings:
  • 1-3 pieces of student work from from the general ed setting
  • A short narrative (verbal or written, whichever is preferred) of how the student is doing when he/she is in gen ed (academically, socially, emotionally, functioning) including one thing that is going well and one thing that the student can work on when in the gen ed classroom
  • Any ideas/ concerns 
3) Get family input before the meeting. 
Some districts require schools to send a copy of the draft IEP home prior to the meeting, some districts make schools write the entire IEP as a team at the meeting, every district has different expectations. You obviously need to follow your district/ state protocol, but if you aren't required to send a draft home prior to the meeting and you come the meeting with a draft IEP, then I highly suggest talking to the families before the meeting about their wants, hopes and input.

Here are some of the questions I suggest talking to families about prior to meetings/ drafting IEPs:
  • What skills/ tasks do you want your child to work on/ improve on? Any specific academic tasks, functional/ daily living tasks, communication skills, etc.?
  • What are your child's strength and areas for growth?
  • What are your child's favorite things (foods, activities, etc.)?
  • Has anything at home changed that the school team needs to know about (medications, in-home therapy frequency, etc.?)
I hope these tips help you to start 2019 with a smooth and positive IEP meeting!