Flawless IEP Meeting Tips

Categories: Resources
Let’s talk about my  tips for holding a flawless IEP meeting!

When I first began teaching, I would lose sleep over IEP meetings.  They were scary to me!  Now, they aren’t so scary.  Over the years, I have been able to find ways to help lessen the stress and make sure my IEPs run smoothly.  I’m excited to share those tips today!

1.  Communication

My first tip for a flawless IEP meeting is:  Do not let the first time you are meeting your students’ family be at the IEP meeting!  This is so important!  Building a positive relationship with your students’ families helps the IEP process so much.  Here are some ways to begin building a relationship with families at the beginning of the school year:

  • Have a Meet the Teacher Night for families and students to see the classroom before school starts.
  • Send home an About Me newsletter (Found in Special Education Must-Have Forms and Templates)
  • Communicate daily (if possible) with families.

I always have a Meet the Teacher Night before school begins and this helps tremendously with the stress of the first day of school.  My students and their families often have a lot of anxiety over attending a new school with new staff.  Giving them the opportunity to come see the room and meet the staff takes a lot of the stress and anxiety away from the first day.  This is a great way to set the foundation of the relationship with families as well!

 

This is a photo that shows the communication packet I use in my classroom. This packet helps with having flawless IEP meetings.
Throughout the school year, I try my best to communicate daily with the families.  I do this through a communication book that I made with The Autism Helper’s Home/School Communication Packet.  I got this idea from blogger, Jen and you can read her post about strengthening the home/school connection here.

2.  Involve the Families When Writing the IEP

The next tip I have for holding a flawless IEP meeting is to involve the families as much as possible in writing the IEP.  This step is crucial in creating the IEP for the child because this is their child.  This is not my IEP and therefore it is incredibly important to get AS MUCH input as possible when creating the IEP.  I gather information from the families using forms in the Special Education Must-Have Forms and Templates.  The forms I use are:

  • Start of the Year Questionnaire
  • Life Skills Rating Form
  • Five and Five
  • IEP Meeting Reminder
  • IEP Check In

By ensuring these forms are completed, I am able to get pertinent information from families on what is most important to them.  I also make sure to have conversations either before the meeting or at the meeting to get as much of their input as possible – after all, no one knows the child better than the child’s family!

3. Send Home a Draft of the IEP

This is a photo of a stamp that says draft in black on a white paper.
Good IEP practice is to make sure I send home a draft of the proposed IEP well before the meeting takes place.  By doing this, I am allowing the family to look it over, and request additions/revisions if necessary.  This also allows for the meeting to run much smoother because they have had time to look over the proposed IEP and understand the changes that are being made.  Blogger and autism parent, Chrissy talks about the importance of sending home a draft of the IEP to maximize parent involvement and ensure a flawless IEP meeting in this blog post.

4.  Prepare an Agenda

This is a photo example of an IEP agenda that I use to ensure I have flawless IEP meetings.
Something that helps keep my IEP meetings running smoothly, is having an agenda for the meeting and sharing it with the IEP team. The agenda ensures that I cover every legal piece of the IEP without forgetting something.  I always go over the agenda at the beginning of our meeting and ask if the family approves and/or would like to add anything to the agenda.  

5.  Explain Everything in Detail

My final tip for having a flawless IEP meeting is to not assume that the families know what I am talking about.  I make sure that I explain everything in detail, ask questions, and clarify any of their questions before moving on to the next topic.  IEPs are full of special education jargon and while I may understand it, it does not mean that the families do.  It is super important to eliminate and clarify any special education language that is used in the IEP to help families gain a better understanding of what the document is saying.  
Those are my 5 Tips for having a flawless IEP meeting. I hope you learned something that will help you in your IEP meetings!  Do you have any questions or comments?  Please leave them below and I will get back to you!  Thanks for reading!
Michelle Lindenmuth, M.Ed.
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