Listen, IEP fever can strike at any time. There’s no vaccine to prep like the flu season. And, if you’re experience these symptoms:
- aches and pains
- racing heart
- “On the edge feeling”
- sweaty palms
- easily irritated
Then you know you’ve got IEP fever.
I used to suffer from IEP fever when it came to my own. All the “teacher talk” and harshness over what my daughter isn’t doing correctly along with very specific goals that I felt did not accurately depict my daughter is the best light. Then came the excessive worry over whether the professionals were right over my mama instincts.
This is probably a weird thing to say, but now after 5 years in the game, I actually really like IEP’s. I see them now as an opportunity to get a contract in place for my daughter and support staff to directly benefit my daughter.
So for you, I would like to share these specific tips that will hopefully benefit you. The only way you will be prepared to have an amazing experience like I do now is to be absolutely, 100% prepared. I have an incredibly cute “Mama Folder” which has amazing details and specific notes to address the IEP team.
Be prepared. Do your homework.
Reread IEP goals and figure out if your son or daughter’s have meet them.
To prepare for what may be overly constructive criticism, make your own list of accomplishments to share with the team. How does your little own perform on tasks outside of school?
For giggles before we get into this, take a look at what one illustrator from special children put together using Homeland Security type risks.
Below are my Top 10 questions to ask during your iep:
1. What is the best way to get in contact with you?
Don’t feel shy about this. Anyone that is in the room to discuss personal information about your son or daughter is fair game. The administrator will appreciate your ask and I am sure you will appreciate the access for communication.
2. Other than IEP’s, how can I stay up-to-date on progress?
You will be surprised just how creative the this can get. The older your children get the different this looks like. I have arranged bi-weekly coffee meet-ups, volunteered in the classroom or volunteered during the campus’ beautification day to get regular one-on-ones.
3. What do you see as my child’s strengths?
An IEP meeting shouldn’t be all about weaknesses, there can definitely be moments when you get to focus on wins. If you know what a win looks like for the IEP team, or what they have particularly recognized within your child, you can help to cultivate that at home.
4. What type of progress can I expect to see? What will this look like?
After all the hard facts, you can steer the direction to see what progress will look like and how they plan on getting your child there. The people on the IEP team are specialists within their field and you can count on them to get your child to the next level as long as accountability is made clear.
5. What can I do at home to support our goals?
Children make the most progress when goals are fluid between home and school. Ask the team for specific suggestions to meet goals.
6. Which of these goals are the top priority?
By the end of an IEP meeting — between behavioral goals and academic goals — you might feel like your head is spinning. Important things to ask: Which goal is top priority? Is it behavioral (transitioning to school, for instance)? Is it academic (phonemic awareness, etc.)? Ask the team. That way, you’ll know what to focus on in discussions about school.
7. How will we measure progress?
Progress towards goals (both academic and behavioral) can be measured in many ways. Will the team be using test scores or a running record with observations of the your child?
8. Take me through my child’s day?
You showed know if your child is being pulled out from the classroom or supports pushed in. Are the supports in a group setting or one-on-one? Make sure you know what specific time your child is getting with their specialist.
9. How will my child’s classroom teacher be provided with resources and assistance to implement proper supports for my child?
A support team is put in places to rely on each other individual strengths to the benefit of your child. You should be involved in making sure you support the teacher just as much as you expect to be supported.
10. What would you do if this were your child?
As the IEP meeting comes to a close, there is always a moment to offer final remarks. This question just might be my favorite one as it opens up the chance to have honest dialogue.
You have every right to request progress on goals that are all agreed on. And if anything doesn’t make sense, ask for more information. You have the right to push back on goals you feel do not where you know in your heart your child can go.
With practice you can definitely slam dunk all of your IEP’s going forward. I know it’s hard and you’re used to the constant battle, but you really don’t have feel like it is them against you. Treat the IEP meeting and the team as a trained tactical unit that will keep your child accountable and on track.