The IEP process can be overwhelming, particularly for parents. That’s why it is important for IEP team members—including parents, educators, and administrators—to work together and support each other as they develop a plan for their student.
Collaborative, effective IEP teams can make all the difference in helping students reach their full potential and prepare them for the rest of their lives. Here are a few tactics used by successful collaborative IEP teams:
Communicate with Respect.
Each team member should strive to practice active listening. Many people listen simply to respond in a conversation. However, in IEP team meetings, it is vital to listen to understand others’ viewpoints.
Ask questions for clarification if needed, and remain open to new ideas. Even if the whole team does not agree on a particular issue at the end of the meeting, compromise is more attainable when everyone feels heard and understood.
Of course, team members also should avoid interrupting each other and should pay close attention to the message their own body language might portray.
First, use the team’s time as efficiently as possible. Set a meeting agenda and appoint a team member who will keep the group on track so the most important items get the time and attention they deserve.
Furthermore, prioritize goals for the student. Not everything can or will be accomplished in one year, and developing too many goals could mean setting the team—and the student—up for failure. Instead, decide which items are most urgent and must be addressed by the IEP now.
It takes the work of all team members to successfully implement an IEP. Team members should walk out of an IEP meeting with their own plan of action—items they can personally focus on to assist the student.
Outlining goals for each team member, as well as a timeline for those goals to be reached, can help rally each person around the central goal of helping the student be successful.
Take time to value fellow IEP team members and celebrate the achievements that have been made and the goals that have been reached. Celebrating with words of appreciation—or even a few snacks—helps build camaraderie among members and strengthens the team’s commitment.