The school year is in full swing, and for many special educators, that means attending IEP meetings. If this is your first year as a special educator, you may be feeling a little anxious about these meetings. Don't worry – you're not alone!
If you're new to special education, your school district may have set you up with a mentor teacher. They can be a valuable resource, especially when it comes to public schools district guidelines. If you don’t have a designated special education mentor or any guidelines, then I'm glad you're reading this!
This blogpost includes links to additional articles that go more into depth about different aspects of the IEP process, IEP meetings, and special education services.
Let's start with organizing the IEP meeting prep work. Regardless of the time of the school year, you probably have your hands full with caseload information. I know it can be stressful to look at all that student information up front, but it will make your year less stressful in the end.
Here's the first steps to feeling more confident at the next IEP meeting:
- Create an IEP Calendar
The first step I recommend doing is grabbing your caseload information and a calendar. Take some time to review each IEP and find out when the annual review needs to be held. Write down when each of your meetings needs to take place. I also like to include if the student is up for a reevaluation. This calendar will help you understand when you need to start getting ready for each meeting. You don’t want any surprises when it comes to an IEP!
When you're ready, I also recommend adding the dates for IEP progress reports on annual goals – those dates have a tendency to sneak up during the busy school year!
- Read the IEP with a Plan in Mind
After you have your calendar complete, you're ready for the next step – let's dive into those IEPs a little more! I know you're already doing this, but I also know from experience that once you've read a few IEPs, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.
One tip that helps me is to grab a blank piece of paper (or Google doc) and take notes of important information as you read through the first time. This helps internalize all the details, from each child's strength, specific goals, family member concerns, evaluation results, and any notes from related services.
Make sure you're familiar with the student's file inside and out – the more prepared you are, the more confident you'll feel!
- Get to Know Other IEP Team Members
You're not alone in this process! Introduce yourself to other IEP team members, whether it's a quick hello in person or send over an email if you are in different buildings. You don’t want the first time you meet to be at a first IEP meeting! Team members can include: family members, the child’s teachers (gen ed), school administrators, a school psychologist, specialists, and other school staff. A good relationship among team members is important when it comes to any individualized education program – we're all in this together.
The IEP process can be nerve wracking as a new special education teacher. Being prepared is the key to feeling confident during your meetings. Now that you created a calendar, read through the IEP with purpose, and introduced yourself to other team members, you're off to a great start!
Check out these additional articles about IEP meetings and preparation:
How to Prepare for an IEP Meeting
Get ready for the upcoming IEP meeting! Tips for general education teachers and special educators.
IEP Meeting Help!
Feeling nervous about the next IEP meeting? You have so much to say, but once the meeting starts, the nerves kick in. I totally understand because I've been there. Here's some tips to try out before the big day!
IEP Goal Writing
Where do I begin writing IEP goals? Should I use an IEP goal bank? I need special education help!
What questions do you have about IEP meetings? Be sure to leave a comment!