Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I attended an IEP meeting yesterday. These meetings are pretty typical as many of the regulations for them come from the federal and state governments.

What was different about this meeting was the amount of conversation and brainstorming that took place. Rather than the dry, sterile meeting where a protocol is followed with each person reporting out, conclusions being made, and the meeting adjourning; this group talked, asked questions of each other, continuously pulled the mom into the conversation, and made plans beyond who was responsible for how long.

This IEP had the potential for being a disaster. The information given to the mom no parent wants to hear about their child.  Every IEP member in the room did their part by explaining their information in layman’s terms and by making sure to follow-up problematic news with positive observations and comments.

It took and hour and a half to complete this meeting but the mom left with a smile and information in hand which will help her out at home. The staff left knowing how they will approach the learning difficulties this child faces. Everyone exited upbeat and took the time to compliment each other about a job well done. A little extra effort and a lot of collaboration made this meeting one I am proud to have joined.


  1. You are right, those meetings always have the potential to be difficult. Years ago, I remember attending IEP meetings where kids would be labeled because the special education professionals wanted to make sure the kids got some "help." The classroom teacher was frustrated with the child and the special teacher enjoyed coming to the rescue. Almost always the "help" that was provided had little to do with classroom curriculum and grade level expectations. I knew it was wrong then but I didn't know what to do about it. My district is trying to implemment RtI in good faith and I see a huge reduction in children mis-labeled as LD.

  2. It's so nice when a team can gather together to support a family. Putting things in simple terms for parents is not degrading, it's awfully helpful. Especially when it comes to the most important person in their lives. I'm so happy to hear that this was a positive meeting that will help a child and family to grow.

  3. I've had a couple of these meetings--for two different children, and none of them were like what you described, but rather a session where mye child slunk lower and lower in their seat in shame. After the child was dismissed, the comments weren't much help either--get the homework done, etc type of things.

    I wish I'd had a team as thoughtful and caring as yours. Both children pulled out and since have earned not only HS diplomas but college and MBAs as well. Those early rough patches were not an indication of who they were or what their lives would be. How much better it would have been if the team and I had actively been involved in a process like yours--this shows me what a great educator you are. Kudos to you!

    P.S. Thanks for your comment on my blog, but no tea (don't like it!)

    Elizabeth E.

  4. You described a great process. Part of the reason I was brought into the job I currently have is because of my first hand experience with IEP meetings as the parent of a special needs child. My role was to be at the meeting to be an extra set of eyes and ears for the parent - ask questions that would help if the parent didn't do so, do an extra check in to see if the plan was understood.

  5. It sounds like a successful meeting, and that's always a great feeling.