Help your IEP meetings run smoothly and be more productive for everyone.
This article includes a variety of tips for successful IEP meetings. I learned about these in SimpleK12's online webinar, 20 Strategies for More Productive IEP Meetings, presented by Melissa Mann. I encourage you to check out the recording of the training session, which has even more helpful advice.
- Set a Positive Intention for Your IEP Meeting — Many people come into IEP meetings fraught with anxiety and stress. Remind all involved that while you may be covering a lot of things that a student can't do, you also recognize all of the amazing things that the student is capable of. Cover some of the positives first thing in the meeting, before moving on to the ways that you can all help.
- Make Introductions –This is a basic one, but easy to overlook. Don't assume the parents know all the individuals at the meeting. This guarantees everyone is at ease, and not questioning who someone else is during the meeting.
- Have an Agenda — Creating a basic agenda for the meeting helps everyone stay on track.
- Set a Time Limit — Majority of the time, there is a set amount of time for these meetings. Addressing this up front helps keep the meeting moving. Let parents know if they do need additional time for questions, you can set a follow-up conference.
- This is NOT a Parent Conference — Ideally, this should not be the first time you're meeting with the parents. Keep in mind the goal of this meeting is not a general parent conference. If at all possible, schedule a conference or phone call with parents prior to the IEP meeting.
- Use Common Language — Make sure you're using language everyone can understand. Pause and clarify whenever necessary. If you're seeing the “deer in headlights” look, that's a sign to stop and regroup.
- Reference the Standards — Make sure others involved understand what standards you're using for the IEP.
- Take Minutes — Have someone at the meeting in charge of taking minutes. These notes will be useful for everyone later on, and a good record of what was discussed. In many states, this is a requirement for IEP meetings already.
- Draft Copies — Distribute a draft of the IEP before the meeting. Let parents know that it is in fact a draft, a starting point to discuss further in the meeting.
- Input from All Parties — Along with your own opinion, make sure to get input from any additional teachers, service providers, and (of course) the child's parents.
- Stay Calm — This is a difficult meeting for many parents, and tensions can run high. If you notice things going off course, pause and re-frame the topic. Remind everyone that ultimately you're all there for the same reason, to help the student succeed.
Another thank you to Melissa for these great ideas. Make sure to check out all of her training sessions inside the Teacher Learning Community.
Check out all of SimpleK12's Special Education training inside the Teacher Learning Community.
About the Author
Kimber Thompson is a Lead Moderator for SimpleK12 webinars and a Contributing Editor for SimpleK12.com. She writes frequently about education topics and is passionate about tools and techniques that inspire young learners. You may reach her with ideas and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.