When an IEP comes together
There’s so many stories out there about terrible experiences at IEP’s, I just wanted to share from a teacher’s perspective a story about an IEP team coming together.
For me, the hardest part of IEPs are finding a date and time that work for everybody involved. Each meeting is legally required to have present (at least) one parent/caregiver, one administrator (or admin representative), one special education teacher, and one general education teachers who need to be present.
Getting all these people together can require the juggling skills worthy of Cirque du Soleil.
This is my story about everyone coming together to making an IEP happen.
My most recent IEP
I had been trying to schedule one student’s IEP for over a month and a half. Each time I called the student’s number, she was out at work, or getting ready for work. It was all I could do to leave a message requesting to schedule an IEP. Meanwhile, the student’s annual due date was creeping up. With each passing day my chances of getting everyone together grew slimmer and slimmer. I was preparing my contingency plan: get mom on the phone and present the option to do a phone conference (scrambling to get admin and teachers if need she was ready right then and there).
Then, first thing on Monday morning (due date on Friday), the student pokes her head into my homeroom and says, “My mom can come today at 3:00 for the meeting.”
“What meeting?” I thought. We hadn’t even talked, let alone officially scheduled
anything. The last time I called (Friday afternoon), the daughter mentioned that her mom had written on the calendar “Meeting at 4:00.”
But nothing was confirmed. “No problem,” I told her. If the student’s mom was committing to be at school that afternoon, I was determined to have a meeting ready for her.
I found my VP in the halls, encouraging students to be on time for class. “Hey, I know it’s last minute and I wouldn’t be asking if it weren’t urgent, but are you available for an IEP meeting this afternoon?”
She starts to explain that she has a 504 meeting for another student scheduled for that afternoon. Suddenly, from out of nowhere, the principal rolls up in her cart.
“What’s up?” she asked. I explained I have been trying for weeks to get this IEP together, and it fell into my lap, just moments ago.
3,2,1 –solution! My principal did some on-the-spot scheduling jiujitsu, freeing herself to go to the 504 so that the VP could attend my IEP.
Finally, the last part is the easiest part: a general education teacher. This particular student has inclusion math and inclusion language arts. Both of her general education teachers are highly committed to their students and have great IEP attendance records. Luckily, one of them was free.
Needless to say, when the time for the meeting rolled around I was very grateful for the fact that everyone rallied together to make this IEP happen.
Sure enough, at 3:05, the mom showed up and was ready for the meeting. So was I, thanks to my VP, Principal, and inclusion teacher. I thanked the mom profusely for taking the time out of work to get this meeting done.
She revealed she had left that job last week because it was taking too much time away from her kids. She added, “Thank you guys for all that you do for my daughter. Without you guys I would be lost. You are my backbone, and I appreciate all you do.” I felt the same way for my coworkers.
It’s amazing how much a little gratitude can lift your spirits. Even with the harried nature with which I managed to schedule the meeting, every team member was there for the student. It was a team atmosphere, and we were able to conduct business in an efficient, timely manner.
When you have a team of dedicated educational professionals working together to create the best possible educational experiences for their students, parents appreciate it.
I want to know...
Have you had an IEP come together well for your child?
What went well, and what did you gain from it?
Share your experience in the comments below!
As always, if you have any questions, email me at