IEP PLANNING

BEING PREPARED FOR IEPS! 

I will NEVER forget my first IEP meeting. It was awful! I was new, had very little training, and was ill-prepared. I vowed after that meeting that I was never going to let that happen again! Not only was I embarrassed, I let the parents down. Though it took some time, and a few more years of experience I figured out a system that allowed me to write thorough and accurate IEPs without going through all of that STRESS at the last minute! Here is the system that has worked very well for me! 

  • At  the BEGINNING of the year, create a ONE PAGE calendar and write down the dates for all of your IEPs for the entire year. I say one page so that you can get a good idea (at a glance) of what months will be busy and which may allow you more time. If you see that September is light but October has 4 IEPs then take advantage of the months that have few or no meetings to prepare for the months that have more. You will also see if a meeting falls around the holidays. If school will be out for a few weeks in December, and you have an IEP in January, I would start to schedule before break.  You can also make notes on this if a translator is needed or if the IEP will be a reevaluation or transition IEP. We all know how HARD it can be to get the entire team together so the earlier the better! I laminate this page and use it year after year. 
          This is the calendar that I use:


  • As soon as you have access to your caseload, REVIEW all of your IEPs. Since you will be measuring goal progress you will need to get the goals and implement a system to measure and track them. I use DATA FOLDERS for each student. You can read about how I set up my goals HERE.  Note: These folders can partially be prepared even before you have the IEPs. Just add names, page protectors, and some blank data sheets. You can add the goals once you get them.                 


  • I always assess students at the beginning of the year as many students may not retain information that was mastered the previous school year. It's important to have a current baseline so that you can track and measure progress. A parent may inquire as to why a student knew something last year and now they don't. I never doubt what a student was able to do previously. I just explain that "At this time, Mary is demonstrating that she is able to/not able to ....." which brings me to my next item, student work samples.
  
  • Student work samples are a great way to communicate to parents what the student is able or not able to do. It gives parents a better understanding of where their child is. Many parents may not understand all of the educational jargon so having work samples is really important to give parents a clear understanding. 

  • An IEP checklist is an EXCELLENT way to stay on top of things. Following the timeline is essential. Starting an IEP a week before it is due is never a good idea, can result in poorly written IEPs, and can be super stressful! There are so many things to remember and even though many of the IEP programs may have reminders, they don't typically catch everything. Ask your SPED department if they have an IEP checklist that you can keep at your desk. This is the checklist that I use.  I created this one that is available in my IEP Binder.  I pre-fill one out for each student at the beginning of the year (just the top portion) and then complete them as each IEP comes up.                 
  • Gather and document more data a few weeks before the meeting. Make sure you have a good idea of where the student is with their goals. You want to feel comfortable if parents or team members have specific questions. This will also help you when writing the IEP. You have to KNOW where your students are. If you don't have data it's going to be really difficult to write present levels or make decisions about goals and objectives.
  • Meet with team members to share or gather information. An IEP team should communicate regularly so that you are all on the same page before the meeting. If there are issues or inconsistencies this should be addressed before and not during the meeting. It  doesn't have to be a long or formal meeting, but make sure to touch base before the meeting and to make sure all team members are aware of student progress. A parent shouldn't feel like the IEP team is not communicating. I have a great FREE resource guide that you can give to any GEN ED teachers if your students spend time in the general education classroom. You can find it HERE
  • Not all schools/districts send a draft home, but it has always been super helpful in my experience. A draft allows parents a chance to review parts of the IEP and not walk into any "surprises" during the meeting. It's also helpful if the parents have any concerns to bring them up ahead of time for any possible modifications. 

IEPs don't have to cause so much stress. A little work up front will save you 
A LOT of stress later!!! 

If you need a way to manage and organize your IEPs with data sheets, assessments, and many other organizational forms you may want to check out this  IEP BINDER.




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