Running IEP Meetings

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by sunbeachgirl, Feb 1, 2013.

  1. sunbeachgirl

    sunbeachgirl Rookie

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    Feb 1, 2013

    Hello everyone,

    I am a first year special ed teacher and I received feedback from my admin. that I need to work on how I run my IEP meetings. I make an agenda, but don't always stick to it. I feel like parents need the meetings to talk about their kids and use it as a time to vent about their frustrations. I like the meetings to kind of take their own flow. My meetings always have a good outcome and my students and parents all like me and the work I do with their students (high school).

    Do you have any specific suggestions for how to best lead IEP meetings? Also, I am only 24, working with people who are twice my age, with parents who are also twice my age, even older. I know that's not a huge deal, but it definitely makes a difference in how I'm able to "take charge" in a meeting.
     
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  3. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Feb 1, 2013

    We have a district-wide agenda that we use as a general guide for our meetings. Typically, we go through introductions and state the time parameters at the beginning. Then, we pretty much just run through the IEP from beginning to end. If it's an eligibility meeting, we just run through the reports and then conclude with making the eligibility determination. If parents veer off-track, we let them talk and address their concerns, but we always bring the meeting back to where it should be, rather than jumping around between sections of the IEP. Our district-level administration has directed us to keep the meeting focused on the IEP (or whatever the purpose of the meeting is), and to let parents know that other non-related concerns or issues (i.e. report cards, field trips, etc.) can be addressed with the teacher following the meeting. Again, we let them digress when they need to, but we politely bring them back to what we have on the agenda in order to keep the meeting on track. We do meetings all day long, back-to-back, one day per week. So, it's imperative that we keep each meeting on track.

    I'm a little older than you, but not by much. I'm often the youngest person in the meetings. In the beginning, I definitely lacked confidence in leading the meetings. It gets better over time, I promise! Experience really does help. I also find that it helps to run through the meeting in my mind ahead of time, so that I am prepared for anything that might arise.
     
  4. waterfall

    waterfall Virtuoso

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    Feb 1, 2013

    When I taught sped I basically just went through the IEP from beginning to end like the pp said. I would do introductions, set the purpose of the meeting, and then just run through everything. I tried to explain everything in "parent friendly" language and asked them if they had questions/comments after each section. If we were on the strengths/needs section and the parent asked a question about goals, I'd tell them that we'd get to that section in a few minutes and I could answer all of their questions then. If they went way off topic, I'd tell them that we had a time limit for the IEP and if they wanted to discuss something else, we'd need to set up another meeting specifically for that. I had not training in IEPs and basically modeled mine off of what I saw the SLP do when she lead meetings, so I'm not sure if what we did was "right" but my admin was always happy with our meetings.
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Feb 1, 2013

    When I ran meetings, we always opened with introductions. Then we would make a chart (usually on the dry erase board) of the student's strengths and needs. This helped for parents to voice their frustrations and helped to keep us on task.

    Any goal that we wrote was taken from the student's needs section. We always wrote the goals at the meeting (I would come with a draft, but the goals often changed).
     
  6. sunbeachgirl

    sunbeachgirl Rookie

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    Feb 3, 2013

    Thank you for the advice. I keep having to remind myself that I've only led maybe 30 IEP meetings in my life...compared to the hundreds that my coworkers have led. It's hard to take charge when you're surrounded by veteran staff and parents who are doctors, lawyers, bankers, etc. I think I'm going to try communicating with the parents much more before the meeting so they don't feel they need to vent so much at the meetings. That should save some time.
     
  7. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 3, 2013

    This sounds like a great way to end up with an IEP meeting lasting hours and hours. Not good.

    I know that you want to make sure that parents have a voice. There's a way to do that within your agenda that still gives everyone else a voice and that still maintains the integrity of the meeting.

    An IEP meeting needs to be focused and productive, otherwise it can quickly deteriorate into a negative thing where fingers get pointed and people get blamed. You might have had supportive parents to date, but that probably won't always be true. I've sat in on meetings where the parents ran the show and no one stepped up to keep the meeting in check or keep the team on task. In the end, nothing was accomplished except that everyone became very angry and the meeting needed to be rescheduled so that things could actually be decided. It was a tremendous waste of time and made everyone not trust anyone else on the team.

    Another thing that you need to consider is your participants' time. Their time is valuable, and it's disrespectful to them to sit around while a parent (or anyone) "vents" during what should be a productive, focused meeting.

    Make time in your agenda for parents to express their concerns, and give that a time limit. Stick to that time limit. That's what should happen in any meeting about any topic--each agenda item is given a max time allotment and then the team moves onto the next agenda item.
     
  8. ecteach

    ecteach Groupie

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    Feb 3, 2013

    I once sat through an IEP Meeting that was being run by another EC Teacher that lasted 4 HOURS! No kidding. It was the parent's fault. She kept rambling on and on and on about everything. We were both serving the kid at the time, but the other teacher was the "case manager." Well, now I am the case manager, and I recently had a meeting with the same parent that lasted 30 minutes. I kept having to redirect her like a child. But, you gotta do what you gotta do!
     
  9. Lisabobisa

    Lisabobisa Comrade

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    Feb 4, 2013

    I'm not a complete expert, but I try to keep my meetings short. Times they seem to drag is when an advocate is involved who wants to go through the IEP and ER page by page by page. Once I sat in one for over 3 hours, and we hadn't even reached the SDI page. The special director called a stop to it, and we reconvened another day. This was for a LTS job, so I'm not sure if the NO-REP ever did get signed. It didn't in the three months I was there.

    I try to go through in order, but one thing I do like to do is have the general education say their piece at the beginning so they can get back to class, especially if coverage by another teacher in the building was arranged.
     
  10. sunbeachgirl

    sunbeachgirl Rookie

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    Feb 4, 2013

    My meetings never run for more than an hour and a half at most (of course I've been in longer, but they were facilitated by county SELPA employees). When the parents vent, it's pretty much only me left in the meeting. Our gen ed teachers attend for the first 20 minutes, then the counselor reports and leaves, and then the principal reports for a few minutes, and then sometimes stays, sometimes goes.

    I have 4 IEPs in the next 2 weeks. I plan to send out an agenda to all meeting participants ahead of time and also call the parents to discuss goals, concerns, etc. in hopes that the meetings run faster.

    I asked my supervisor what complaints he's had about my meetings, but he said they were complaints directed at our whole department. Counselors and admin have said the meetings are too long. This blows my mind given they only attend for 30 minutes or so. Ugh.
     
  11. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Feb 4, 2013

    Our district administration has told us that our meetings automatically stop the moment a required participant leaves the meeting. Those required participants include an LEA (usually an administrator, but sometimes a counselor or department chair), a general ed teacher, a special ed teacher, and someone who is interpreting the educational implications of the evaluation results. We always, at absolute minimum, have three people in the meeting, besides the parents. I actually told a general ed teacher today that she couldn't leave school early for a dentist appointment later this week because she was legally required to be at the meeting (or find another grade-level representative, which she didn't want to do).

    My recommendation to you would be to always have someone else in the meeting with you. It's not only best practice, but I'm pretty sure it's legally required.
     
  12. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    Feb 4, 2013

    This seems like a sticky issue. Presumably you aren't this gen ed teacher's supervisor, so it seems like you shouldn't be able to tell her that she can't use her sick/personal days. That seems to be far beyond your scope of practice and perhaps even a contract violation. Are you sure that it's her responsibility to find a replacement, or is it the facilitator's responsibility? What does the law say?
     
  13. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Feb 4, 2013

    I don't think I explained the situation very well... You are correct that I'm not her supervisor, and I didn't tell her that she had to be there with any sense of authority. I told her that legally we had to have a representative from her grade-level there. This happens fairly often actually, and we usually have the grade-level department chair sit in, unless another grade-level representative volunteers. She wasn't planning to take any sick/personal time. She was just going to divide her students up between two other teachers and cut out of the building about 20 minutes before the end of the school day. She asked me if it would be alright for her to leave the meeting about halfway through. I told her that it would be fine, but that, since someone from her grade-level has to be there, either she or I would need to find someone else. She didn't want to burden any of her teammates, so she opted to reschedule her appointment.

    So to answer your question specifically, it would be my responsibility to find someone to represent the grade-level, but she didn't want me to burden anyone else by asking them. She wasn't aware that someone from her team had to be present throughout the entire meeting.

    I never mind when a classroom teacher can't attend the meeting, and I need to find a replacement. Although, I'll admit that I do get a little miffed when they don't tell me ahead of time, and I have to scramble (and cause the person sitting in to scramble) at the last minute while the parents are sitting in the lobby waiting. I always appreciate a little head's up.
     
  14. sunbeachgirl

    sunbeachgirl Rookie

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    Feb 6, 2013

    We always get permission from parents prior to the meetings to excuse some team members if necessary (after they come for the first 20 minutes).
    I work at the high school level and teacher's contract hours are 7:30-3:20. There is literally no way I can get a gen ed teacher to stay for more than 20 minutes. They have 150 students...and 10% of that have IEPs. They would have to attend so many meetings during the year, it's just impossible.
     
  15. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feb 7, 2013

    We are very often released from an IEP meeting before it closes so that we can get back to planning or teaching.
     
  16. bobby

    bobby Rookie

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    Feb 7, 2013

    This is my 8th year being a special educator. I'm often still the youngest in the meeting. But you are the expert in the field, and most parents will respect that.
    I have found that you MUST stay on topic at IEP meetings. If the meeting is an annual review, focus on that. If it's a reevaluation review, focus on that. Many times the parent will want to bring up other issues that don't apply to the IEP and/or the other team members in the meeting. I always tell the parent that we can discuss that after the meeting or at a later time. Usually the parent is fine with that.
    Also, att the beginning of the meeting, I let everyone know what the meeting is about and that everyone is on a tight schedule. This tends to keep the meeting going at a good pace.
    My meetings usually don't last more than 30 minutes.
     

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