IEP meetings are an important part of every school therapist’s job. The real key to successful IEP meetings is proper preparation. Here are the top tips and tricks to help therapists participate in successful IEP meetings.
Step 1 – Create a Spreadsheet
First, create a table or spreadsheet, with an empty column for each month of the school year providing a place to list students’ IEP due dates. This provides a framework to begin the organization process. Next, read through each student’s IEP and write down the due date. Be sure to check if the student is up for a 3-year re-evaluation during the current school year and denote that in some fashion. Highlight the student’s name if you are the case manager.
Step 2 – Enter Student Info and IEP Date
Second, enter each student’s name, with the IEP due date following it, under the appropriate month (as explained above). Be sure to list the name with the earliest due date first, working your way so the last IEP due falls at the bottom of that month’s list. If a student has a 3-year re-evaluation due that month, be sure to denote that in some fashion whether-or-not you are the case manager.
Step 3 – Set Up Calendar Reminders
Third, after each student is placed on that list, locate your online calendar. If you are the case manager, set a reminder to begin the student’s IEP paperwork approximately 6-8 weeks before the due date. If you’re not, still note it on your calendar approximately 4 weeks earlier to follow-up with the actual case manager.
If a student requires a 3-year re-evaluation and you are the case manager, set a reminder to begin the paperwork approximately 90-days before the due date. If someone else is the case manager, follow-up with that person to make sure they sent the Consent to Test form to the caregivers. Having 90 days provides a helpful cushion to complete the full team process.
During the Meeting
The below are a list of pointers that are great to keep in mind for all IEP meetings.
- Dress appropriately (i.e., casual business attire.)
- Be professional – remove gum before speaking, make eye contact with all attendees and turn your phone off.
- As a case manager, prepare a short agenda (with approximate time designated for each item) to keep everyone on track.
- Generate a list of positive comments about the student to share as you introduce yourself and your information.
- Briefly summarize what the student has been working on in therapy.
- Avoid professional jargon that may be misunderstood (i.e., intelligibility, syntax, semantics).
- If you plan to assign speech homework, discuss your expectations with parents.
Teletherapy IEP Meetings
Working in a Teletherapy setting requires a few additional steps to prepare for and execute successful IEP meetings.
- Ask about the district’s IEP process: Where are IEP meetings held, who is responsible for calling and scheduling the IEP meetings, etc.?
- When calling the parent to schedule an IEP, remind him/her that you provide virtual therapy services and because so, you will conduct the meeting via computer. Let them know the other IEP team members will be attending in person.
- When you invite the LEA (e.g., Administrator), ask him/her to print out the IEP paperwork for the meeting (remind him/her the day before the meeting as well).
- Ask the classroom teacher if s/he would meet the parent(s) in the office and escort them to the meeting.
- Designate someone to take notes for you during the IEP meeting.
- Whether-or-not you are the case manager, ask the facilitator, LEA, or Special Education Teacher to bring the teletherapy laptop to the meeting and set it up approximately 15 minutes before the meeting.
- Log in to make sure the technology is working correctly.
- Place the laptop where it allows the teletherapist to see and hear the participants.
- Consider connecting external speakers to the laptop so all attendees can hear the teletherapist.
Organizing student information can be daunting for anyone at the beginning of the school year. How you generate and structure your IEP schedule can impact the flow of your school year. Being prepared from the beginning of the school year can eliminate unwanted surprises (i.e., expired IEPs, missed 3-year re-evaluations).
Written by: Tracy Sippl, MS., CCC-SLP, Advanced Clinical Fellowship Supervisor