Monday, May 7, 2012

The IEP Chore

IEPs are time-consuming and a chore to write.  We second-guess ourselves: Should this be worded differently? Is the profile going to pass my Special Ed Director’s critical eye? Where am I supposed to put sensitive information?  Do all my dates line up so that I’m in compliance with all the state and federal mandates? Who will visit me in IEP jail?
The writers of the IEP aren’t the only ones who worry. The readers and implementers fret about what they are (being) committed to, how they have to collect data, and under what circumstances things can change.  Knowing that the IEP is a legally-binding document between the school and the family doesn’t make the whole process any less stressful.
Of particular concern for regular classroom teachers is their role.  As educational team members, they should be providing for information about what goes into the education plan, but often they nod in silent agreement, deferring to the special ed teacher.  That’s understandable, but it makes it hard for the teacher to feel invested in the process or the outcomes. 
Within the IEP itself, we are forced to ask ourselves hard questions. What kinds of supports, accommodations, or modifications are necessary and for what purpose? Have we considered the need for any assistive technology?  We are going to struggle with the answers if we aren’t sure exactly what the differences are among all of these terms.  That, in turn, erodes our confidence and makes us want to  say, “Just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”  Unfortunately, that’s not how the process works.
If you are one of the many teachers or administrators who aren’t sure about all this IEP writing stuff and what it means to be committed to the plan, take a look at Module 3: IEP Boot Camp I.  You’ll find opportunities to share your anxieties AND your expertise through this online professional learning community.

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