Updated: Jan 14, 2021
The IEP process can be long, confusing, and stressful. It can be easy to get caught up in creating a "compliant" IEP and finishing all the paperwork. While I have felt all these feelings and this may sound strange, I actually really enjoy IEP meetings! I enjoy celebrating our students' successes and problem solving around how we can support them in reaching their goals. However, more than creating a really stellar IEP, it's important to make the IEP process student-centered. Here are my top five tips for involving your students in the IEP process:
1. INVITE THEM.
Tell your students about their meetings! Inviting students to their IEP meetings at any age can be valuable and can provide the opportunity for students to have a voice and better understanding of their learning.
2. EXPLAIN WHAT IT ALL MEANS.
Special education is full of acronyms that are challenging for anyone to keep track of. Ditch the jargon and use language that is accessible for everyone. Explain to the student what an IEP meeting is, who will be attending the meeting, and the purpose of the meeting. Have a transparent discussion about disability and why the student has an IEP.
3. SEEK THEIR INPUT.
Ask for your students’ input! The IEP, meeting, and paperwork is all about them! Ask them about their strengths & areas for improvement. Ask about what their goals are for when they graduate, where they want to live, and what kind of job they want to have. Instead of guessing or relying solely on parent/guardian input, ask THEM.
4. GET THEM INVOLVED.
Brainstorm ways for the student to present their input at their IEP meeting. Who knows? Your student may even be able to work towards student-led IEP meetings! Even if they need a little help, having students share their own input is something they can take ownership of. It’s a form of self-advocacy, which we can start to teach at any early age. Other ways to get students involved can look like having them help create a powerpoint or video to be presented at the meeting. Have them present their input. You might make a schedule or agenda for the meeting with them. Get creative about how your individual student can be an active participant in their planning out their educational programming.
5. REVIEW AND REFLECT WITH THEM.
Remind your students about their goals after the meeting. When you see them demonstrating those skills, say something about it! Have quarterly, monthly, or weekly meetings with your students to reflect upon the data you collect. Just as you share it with parents/guardians, share it with your students and let them know how they are doing! It’s amazing to see your students make progress. Share that success with them and allow them to take ownership of that growth!
How do you involve your students in the IEP process?