An Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting is a tool that special education professionals and other support staff use to plan, monitor, and revise a child’s education plan for the coming year or other chosen time periods. These meetings are essential to ensure that the child will receive the support and services that they need to achieve the goals set for the coming period.
Parents and other relatives will usually be present, and it’s important to understand that for many of them, this meeting can be an incredibly emotional event. It is not at all unusual for these family members to become confused, angry, upset, or exhibit other intense emotions during the meeting.
As members of the support staff, we need to ensure that the meeting is productive while remaining helpful and supportive to the family.
BE PREPARED & PROFESSIONAL
Parents and other family members attending the meeting are looking to you to assure them their child is in good hands. Coming to the meeting prepared and exhibiting professionalism during the meeting will go a long way toward making them more comfortable.
Have goals in mind going into the meeting
Make sure any data you bring is accurate and relevant and up to date
Know the team you are working with and make sure that everyone is on the same page by the end of the meeting
Try not to get too emotional during the meeting
Take your ego out of it- be non-judgmental
Schedule prior meetings to outline the main goals before going to the IEP meeting
ACTIVELY ASSESS THE IEP DURING THE MEETING
An IEP meeting is an active discussion to make sure everybody involved in the child’s education is working toward the same goals. Don’t hesitate to provide your input during the meeting.
During the IEP meeting, look for specific indicators that should be addressed
Let other team members know when something doesn’t sound right
BE A GOOD LISTENER & ACTIVELY PARTICIPATE
All participants in the meeting are there for a reason. It’s essential that everyone has a voice and has a chance to be heard.
Don’t just listen during the meeting- ask questions
Don’t be afraid to speak up
Give opinions on behavioral problems as they pertain to the IEP
Don’t be afraid to repeat questions in different ways
Ask lots of questions, as the parents probably have the same ones
DIRECT SUPPORT TO THE FAMILIES – ADVOCATE FOR THEM
It is critical that the family members in attendance feel that the support staff is their child’s advocate – not their enemy. Be sure to address their needs and concerns throughout the meeting.
Make sure they are getting enough outside support and advice
Know & understand the IEP, the child’s diagnosis, and the goals
Encourage parents to speak up when they don’t feel they can voice their concerns
Manage their expectations- ensure their expectations are realistic
It is essential that parents and other loved ones present at the IEP feel that their child’s needs are being met. We can help ensure that the meeting is productive and addresses their needs and concerns by coming prepared, ready to listen, and willing to take action.