How to Better IEP Meetings in 8 Steps
IEP meetings are required by the government to be held at least one time during the school year in order to map a curriculum for disabled children to follow as they attend school. The people who are by the child’s side (parents, teachers, therapists, school administrators, and the like) generally attend the meeting. Attending the meeting can lead to the child reaching educational success beyond anyone’s imagination, due in part to school districts who are usually more than happy to make reasonable accommodations for the child’s IEP.
However, not all IEP meetings will lead to a happy ending. Many parents may find that they will face an uphill battle over their child’s IEP. Experiences will differ among every story, even those within the same school district. Some student’s talents, abilities, and skills will flourish while others may not come to the surface until later in life. Given the opportunity to succeed, parents of disabled children will find that their child’s success would not be at par if it were not for the opportunities that were presented. Every story can be a success if all parties know how to better plan and prepare themselves for the IEP meetings.
The 8 Steps
The eight steps listed below can help the parents and the child’s team to minimize the conflict that may come when making negotiations during the IEP meeting with the school district. These steps can also help in cases when working with bad faith school district personnel.
1)Maintain and carry on relationships with the people you meet.
Make an attempt to get along with the other people whose job it is to help the child, even though one person might loathe the other. Hostility is the last thing the child needs so it is in the best interest of the child to learn to work with each other despite the differences and disagreements that will occur.
2)Focus on the needs of the children instead of the parents and school district.
Walk in with a plan and make every attempt to stick with it. There have been many parents who walk into the meeting without any goals and not knowing what their disabled child needs to succeed in school. Instead they settle for the generic plan that is presented to them by the school. Most schools and their districts are more than happy to make any reasonable accommodations for their students to succeed.
3)Be willing to negotiate and bargain.
Going in with a plan does not mean that it will become a completely successful plan at the end. If the parties cannot come to an agreement regarding the child’s education, a judge or mediator will step in and ask the parties what they would like to happen. When all is said and done, hopefully the mediator and/or judge thought of a plan B that pleases the parties to a certain extent.
4)Have a separate file and keep track of everything.
Parents, make sure you are able to keep track of everything you can get your hands on. In the case where a child may not be showing improvement, it is important to be able to prove to a third party through progress reports, test results, and the like that your child needs more than what the school is currently providing.
5)Imagine (or at least try to) what it is like to be on the other side.
Put yourself in the other person’s shoes and imagine what it is like to be them for the day. Experiencing or even imagining the day in the life of the other person can make it easier to come up with more practical solutions for the child and help maximize the educational goals.
6) Listen and try to be open-minded.
No one can be right every single time and we all learn something new every day. Although there will be ideas tossed around that we do not agree with and would not like to hear, being calm and listening to what the other person has to say makes it easier to understand where they are coming from.
7)Give others the opportunity to love your child just as much as you do.
If the teachers, school officials, therapists, and other members of the team have the chance of getting to know your child, misconceptions about what the child needs will occur less frequently. It makes it easier for everyone to come up with a plan so that the child can succeed in school.
8)Do not get your hopes up.
Most school officials chose their field because they want to make a difference in the lives of the students they come across. These school officials for the most part do have good intentions and may go out of their way to make sure your child succeeds. Not all will have the best train of thought in mind and some will try to push their opinions onto you rather than listen and come up with a mutual agreement.