Updated: Oct 12, 2019
Do you have a certain format you follow for your IEP meetings? I taught at a Christian school where we did not have to complete the same IEP forms that the public schools do so my IEP meetings may look a little different than the norm. However, I hope you can glean some ideas from my experience. Here are my tips for conducting a successful IEP meeting.
This first step may seem obvious! Make sure to introduce everyone at the meeting and
explain their role in relation to the child. Introductions are not only important for the parents but also for the support staff as they may not be familiar with all of the child's teachers.
I liked to use an agenda for my IEP meetings so that everyone knew where we were and where we were going. Pass the agenda out at the beginning of the meeting. Keep your agenda simple i.e. 1. Introductions, 2. Strengths/Weaknesses, 3. Explanation of Testing Terms, 4. Test Results, 5. Action Plan.
3. Start & End with Positives
Prior to our IEP meeting, I would contact each participant and ask them to come prepared to share at least one strength of the student. Most often a child's weaknesses are the reason for the IEP meeting and are the things that stand out. It is so important to not only focus on weaknesses but also acknowledge the student's strengths. For some students it may seem hard to identify strengths but all students have them (even if the strength often looks like a weakness)! For example, a strength of a child that often interrupts may be that he/she is not afraid to speak up and share their ideas. Try to focus solely on the strengths first and then after everyone has shared at least one strength you can discuss your main concern areas. I also liked to open my meetings with prayer (as I taught in a Christian school). Be sure to end the meeting with a positive as well even if it is simply restating/summarizing previously stated strengths.
4. Explain Testing Terms
Use a simple chart (like the free chart I have included at the end of this post) to explain the different types of scores. Pick one type of score to focus on. I recommend the standard score because it gives a nice average range and can easily be compared across different tests as well as peer groups. I prefer the standard score as opposed to age or grade equivalents which can sometimes be misleading and/or discouraging and percentile ranks which can sometimes be confused with percentages. Focus on one or at the most two types of scores so that you can clearly present the results. I also find it is helpful to highlight the average range on the testing terms page so parents can quickly identify where their child's scores fell.
5. Discuss Test Results
Do your best to present accurate results. Don’t embellish the results but be careful to explain them with sensitivity and compassion. Keep in mind that this child is the parents' world! This news may be the most devastating or the biggest relief to the parents. *Keep tissues handy!
6. Action Plan
Focus on this area! Always leave the parents with hope! Re-emphasize the students strengths, talk about strategies and support options and write up goals for the student to work on. Strategies might include mnemonic devices (like these), teaching methods (like the lattice method), visuals, or hands-on manipulatives. Learner profiles (like these) can also be helpful for identifying the way the child learns best. Leave time for questions, sign forms and thank everyone for coming. Tell the parents when & how to reach you with further questions. End in prayer (if you can). Once all of the questions have been answered, stand up as a cue that the meeting is complete and escort them to the door.
Follow through on tasks/to-dos from the meeting promptly. Get back to the parents on their questions if you were unable to answer all of them during the meeting. Inform those who were unable to attend about the results and action plan.
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