Cram In Everything You Can!

Ahhhhh…. the season of IEP meetings.  That wonderful time of year when we pull together teams of people to review a student’s progress towards the goals we set for this school year, to take a look at his or her current level of performance, to hear from clinicians on their most recent assessment data and recommendations, to set goals for next year, to brainstorm strategies for how best to meet those goals, to check in with parents and get their perspective and input into planning, to hear from the student how things are going for them and to help them practice their advocacy skills by being a part of their own team… and if we could wrap this up in 40 minutes, that would be great, cause there is another meeting scheduled, and those parents are already here and waiting.

Sheesh!  No wonder these meetings can be so crazy-making!

This really hit me after an IEP meeting I’d attended that I thought had gone really well.  I felt like the parent had been able to express their concerns, and felt they were really heard.   The social worker in me checked this meeting up in the “win” column.

Then I talked to another team member.  He felt the meeting had been a flop because the classroom teacher had not had much of an opportunity to share what was happening in the classroom.

Then I talked to another team member.  She was concerned that we had not identified the strategies that would give next year’s teacher specific direction.

Then I talked to another team member.  She was concerned that there were issues that had not been raised because the student was in attendance at the meeting, and she had felt unable to raise these concerns without embarrassing the student.

It really brought home for me the importance of sharing a common picture.  If we don’t make efforts to ensure that we are all clear on the purpose of our work, it’s inevitable that some people will feel that their needs were met, and others who feel that they were not.

I don’t have the answer for what a “perfect” IEP meeting would be like… but a good start would be to have the team establish a common vision for what they want to accomplish in the meeting.  Without that, it’s easy to approach a meeting with the “cram in everything that you can” agenda, which will leave some people feeling a frustrated that there were things that did not get addressed.

What have your experiences been with IEP meetings?

What makes you crazy about them?

What has worked well?

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