How Special Education Teachers Can Improve the IEP Meeting Experience for Parents

As a parent, heading into an IEP meeting is overwhelming.  Even well-seasoned parents of children with special needs get nervous before walking into a meeting where the sole purpose is to dissect what their child can and cannot do.  There are some things that special education teachers can do for parents to elevate some of the anxiety that comes with attending IEP meetings.

Dear Tired Teacher,

It seems that as soon as spring hits, teachers start fantasizing about what their classroom will be like in the fall.  We start thinking of all of the ways to improve what we have been doing this year.  We say things like, "Next year, I will always have my attendance in on time" or "I'm going to be so much more organized next year."  You may already know your teaching assignment for next year.  You may be getting excited for a new classroom configuration you want to try out or a whole new grade level you've never taught before.  But, my tired teacher friend, I urge you to slow down and remain present in THIS year.

Guided Research Projects - Research Made Easy

I've never really been a fan of teaching writing, but I always really dreaded when it was time to teach informative writing.  Even as a student, research projects were the worst!  As a teacher, I especially hated when it was time for research projects to begin.  

For me, the topic was always too big and I didn't know where to start.  I had a hard time staying on topic.  I never really knew when it was time to be done researching and time to begin writing.  I found that a lot of my students were having the same issues and knew there needed to be a better way.

Staying Positive While Feeling Overwhelmed

It is a known fact that teachers have stressful jobs.  Many times, we do not know how stressed we are until we get totally overwhelmed.  Depending on your school environment, you may feel overwhelmed more often than not.  The following are some ways to remain positive and calm when feeling overwhelmed at school.

Building Strong Parent Teacher Relationships in Your Classroom

As teachers, one of our greatest resources can be the parents of the students we work with.  It takes time and effort to foster strong relationships with parents, but it is often more than worth it in the end.

I've worked with parents that are ready to jump right in and become a partner right away and others that needed more coaxing.  There are several things you can do to create a welcoming environment that produces parent allies or even parent partners.

Improve Editing In Your Classroom

If your students are anything like mine, they don't mind writing until we get to the revising and editing part.  So many times, once they get their ideas on paper, they think they are done.  Just like everything else, the more you practice a skill, they better you get!  Here are some tips on how to improve editing in your classroom.

Change Their Mindset

A lot of students are reluctant to revise and edit their work because they feel like they are having to go back to "fix mistakes".  Instead of thinking of editing as righting all of the wrongs, it is important to make it clear that revising and editing turn good writing pieces into great writing pieces.  Something I need to continue to work on is changing my own language from "let's fix our writing pieces" to "let's make our writing pieces better".

Tracking Accommodations Easily and Efficiently

Special Education teachers are the masters of data collection!  At times, collecting data can be overwhelming, especially when you sometimes have to outsource the collecting to other teachers, specialists, or teaching assistants.

Tracking accommodations is necessary to make sure an IEP is being followed and can be helpful in determining which accommodations should be added to or removed from the IEP.  Believe it or not, collecting data on accommodations and modifications does not have to consume your life!