November 9, 2011

IEP Meetings, I Actually Like Attending Them

I attend at least 20 IEP meetings a year. I am trying my best to schedule and plan for 10 at the moment. For those who don't know, IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. It is basically a legal document that is updated at least once a year that includes a plan with how the student with special needs will participate in a federal/state supported educational environment. It can include information about services and accommodations the student may require.

Most people gripe and moan about upcoming IEP meetings they must attend. I am sure some parents worry and stress about attending IEP meetings for their child. It can be a very stressful time for some, understandably.

But, I don't mind attending IEP meetings. I actually enjoy them, that is if no one is rushing through or if the meeting is not headed by someone who has no experience in holding an IEP meeting, and has no one with more experience guiding him or her. I have a tough time with meetings that parents were unable to attend. I am always interested in hearing what the parents or caregivers have to say, even if they are negative. I like the discussion aspect of it, unless the team decides to hurry though. I also like participating in the planning and figuring out what would be appropriate for the student. This is also my chance to re-educate the team members about the student's hearing loss and communication mode, and how they impact him or her in a general education setting.

What I don't enjoy is scheduling and planning meetings. It can take months to do all of the necessary paperwork, getting everyone together on a certain day and time, updating the IEP draft, and making sure all the correct information is there. It does not get any better after the meeting is over, because I have to make sure all the documents are signed, faxed, copied, mailed, and filed in appropriate places. These things take a long time. It is very stressful and tedious work.

Now, with trying to plan ten different meetings, I hardly have time to teach and work on my lesson plans. I look forward to having normal days at work where I am not required to come in at 7:00 in the morning and leave at 6:00 p.m. or so, and then go home to do more paperwork. Ugh.



  1. annual IEPs are a key part of progress monitoring and accountability, as well. Most states have mandatory school-wide achievement tests that all students, including those in special ed, are required to take. Only the score is available to teachers, so they don't get to know how the student did on specific items. But other schools can include teacher- or computer-administered standardized tests, such as the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP), which do provide the teacher with specific data that can inform instruction. Parents and students have the right to CLEAR information about whether progress is occurring. When a student is mainstreamed, I would expect to see some evidence of progress, not grades alone (which are sometimes given for effort, not performance). I've read way too many IEPs where the teacher(s) simply say Student has grown so much, blah blah, but have no data to back it up.

    I agree with you about the headache of planning these meetings! I'm lucky we have an administrative assistant who does all that. I can't imagine putting together a meeting AND a full time teaching load too. I hope you're getting your money's worth out of the Microsoft Office Suite!

    Anonymous the First

  2. i am a student that just turned 14 so my HI itinerant has started to have me go to my IEP meetings, i had one at the beginning of this year with all of my teachers and i got very emotional. i have another meeting soon to review my IEP and i am kind of nervous about getting emotional again, do you have any suggestions on how i should deal with these emotions at my IEP meetings?

  3. Anonymous @9:38 pm -

    First of all, I think it is great that you have started going to your IEP meetings. I try to encourage all of my students to attend. I think it is very important for the student to be there.

    I am not sure how you can keep your emotions at bay when you are at the meeting. Perhaps, before the meeting, you can talk about what you plan to discuss or bring up at the meeting with your family, friends, or anyone you feel comfortable talking to about this. This may help you prepare some for the meeting. If you start to feel emotional during the meeting, you can take a short break (go get some water, regroup); you have the right to take as many breaks as you want.

    In my opinion, I think it is fine for you to get emotional. IEP meetings are a big deal. I have had teachers who became emotional, parents, and even students, so you are not alone.

    I will post a guide I found online made specifically for teenagers attending IEP meetings. Maybe this will help.

    Anyone else have any suggestions?

  4. For the 14 year old, I agree with e)... IEP meetings can be emotional, and nerve-wracking, even for me as a teacher, and I have attended many, many meetings. The last IEP meeting I attended as a teacher, the mother was very upset and yelling, and we spent 30 minutes discussing one particular component of the IEP. Like e) said, talk it over with people you feel comfortable with. Your HI teacher should be able to sit with you and review the IEP with you before the meeting; he or she should be able to tell you what is in it and what to expect. You can also discuss with him or her any concerns you have before the meeting so that they are addressed during the meeting. Good luck! ~Janel K.

  5. Is the school district obligated to set up an IEP meeting if requested, and is there a specific time frame? I have a friend with a 3 year old daughter with a speech disorder. She needs speech therapy asap but the district is moving very slowly. Thanks.

  6. I think some school districts are obligated to set up an IEP meeting if requested. However, the child or student must be first found eligible for services. Some schools are slower than others. It depends on the situation. We try to do everything as quickly as possible.

    If the district is moving too slowly, the parents need to be diligent about contacting the school. Sometimes we just need to be poked and reminded. Things can get extremely overwhelming--it's easy to get lost in the sea of paperwork, meetings, and issues we come across.


Keep it civil.