Actually, mine was done in March because Shelby’s teacher is awesome and stuff.
IEPs are individualized education plans which are drawn up by a child’s parent (or guardian) and specific representatives of the public school system. Typically they will include a special education teacher, a regular education teacher, any associated therapists, and an LEA (representative of the Local Education Agency who is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of, specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of
children with disabilities; knowledgeable about the general education curriculum; and knowledgeable about the availability of resources of the LEA). Sometimes, if the child is old enough (cut off date is 14) the child will be present. Also any of the above must be able to interpret any evaluations or a person who can must be present. The parent can also invite anyone they want who has a vested interest in the child’s future. I often bring along a parent advocate but grandparents have also attended.
Shelby goes through this process annually. We periodically have re-evaluations done (we’ll have one done next year) but each year her academic, behavior, speech and occupational therapy goals must be reviewed as well as updated to account for any progress. We also have to make decisions about testing (as Shelby will be going into 3rd grade) and transportation and, in our district, a program called “extended school year” which gives Shelby academics and therapy over the summer.
So, this year I walked in feeling all…
and walked out like this:
Why? Well, most of us look forward to an IEP meeting like we do getting a tooth pulled. Not the best or our favorite thing to do. BUT, when you have an awesome team, it can be such an amazing experience. I sat there in amazement at the staff because it hit me: everyone has been paying attention this year! Unfortunately because of the behaviors of some of the other children in Shelby’s class in years past, sometimes important things were missed because her behaviors are less troubling or violent than most. I was so excited to realize that Shelby has been getting so much one on one attention and that she has been improving because the staff has been so in tune to her motivations and her areas of need that they’ve tailored everything to actually get her to do the work. And she’s none the wiser. I am incredibly impressed with not just Shelby’s teacher and assistants but with the administration and other teachers in the school who work so well with her. Her art teacher sat in as the regular education teacher who asked if certain speech techniques being used in the classroom could be extended into her art, music, PE, computer and media classes. It was refreshing to hear people being encouraging, not frustrated. And I understand the frustration, but it’s hard for it not to be disappointing.
I’ve given advice before on what to try to do to better ensure a good IEP meeting but I know that we can at the very least hope for good things. We may not look forward to these meetings, but we can try to be positive. We can sometimes be surprised.