In the world of special education services, writing IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) and holding IEP meetings are some of the most important elements to take place during a student’s special education program. However, they can sometimes be challenging—especially during school closures when educators are remote and processes are being reinvented.
As the co-founder of E-Therapy, I’ve spent a good deal of my career thinking through the best way to provide these services and conducting IEP meetings virtually. Seeing students grow and thrive is our goal at E-Therapy, and we know how important it is to host a successful IEP meeting.
That’s why we wanted to share some important tips based on our experiences to ensure that you and your IEP team have a positive experience and are able to keep IEP meetings productive and consistent during this inconsistent time.
Here is a list of three core elements that help to create a productive and beneficial IEP meeting:
Before the Meeting:
- Pre-Meeting Communication Matters.
Be sure to communicate with everyone effectively before the meeting—parents, staff, and related service team members. Be clear about the goal of the meeting and where and when it is to take place. Make sure that the meeting notice goes out at least 7 days beforehand and create an organized digital filing system to help make locating files easy and intuitive. Next, gather materials and documents that are required in regard to the student’s attendance, progress, and data notes so that everyone comes prepared and ready to dive in.
- Data Gathering Is Key!
The better the data, the better the meeting…and the better the result for the student! As time allows, be sure to gather and provide all documents available to you from the student’s IEP support team to help reinforce and guide annual goals moving forward. Some ideas of content to gather include:
- Most recent teacher and instructor progress reports, testing results, and parent feedback.
- Academic achievement data/report cards, etc.
- Clinical data input from all therapists that support the student
During the Meeting:
- Communication, Communication, Communication!
During the meeting, introduce all team members and designate a team member to take notes. If the meeting is done via conference call or video conference (which may likely be the case for some time), this step is even more important to connect everybody at the beginning of the call. Take a moment to let everyone say a quick hello to create open lines of communication from the start. It is of the utmost importance to communicate clearly and ensure that the parents of the student and the IEP team members are on the same page regarding the student’s goals and progress. Discuss supports and next steps that are needed for continued progress and new annual goals. If these goals, strengths, and weaknesses are not discussed and vocalized, they sometimes go unaddressed and potential progress is limited. Ask questions and get feedback from IEP team members regarding the student’s work, achievements, and needs.
- Don’t Forget the Importance of a Detailed PWN.
Finally, it is necessary to write a detailed PWN (Prior Written Notice) that outlines what took place during the IEP meeting and what the school’s actions will be for the annual IEP year. This helps keep everyone accountable, which means the meeting will produce measurable and positive results
As with just about everything, the important theme to take away regarding these important tips is communication. Be sure to effectively communicate before the meeting, during the meeting, and at the end.
Afterwards—to ensure synergy, as well as a holistic annual IEP strategy and team cooperation and collaboration—provide required documentation regarding the new annual IEP and what it will look like for the student. Make sure all services, goals, and frequency of service are indicated and written correctly. Whether your IEP meetings are done remotely or in person, this important element allows for student success for the upcoming school year
After all, that is why we do what we do, isn’t it…to make sure every student gets the chance they deserve in order to thrive and succeed in school and in their day-to-day life!
Diana Parafiniuk, M.S., CCC-SLP founded E-Therapy in 2009 after finding herself driving hundreds of miles per week. She knew there must be a better way to deliver speech therapy to students and schools. Today, E-Therapy is an established market leader, known for providing the highest quality services and reaching students and schools across the United States. As E-Therapy’s Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Offiicer, Diana is a seasoned and nationally recognized business leader in the teletherapy market. She received the prestigious Women’s Achievers Award awarded from the Arizona Capitol Times for women who excel in businesses advancing communities and making a difference in people’s lives