The IEP & Co-Teaching: Getting in the Groove

Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Here's to IEP Week here at Guided Notes & Coffee! Grab some snacks.

One of the biggest struggles I had this year was writing IEPs/ being confident in them. I agonized over if they were well written or not. I also made my inclusion facilitator look over them after I was done. Well, that's a half truth, she wanted to see them. I just messaged her when I was done with the question "can you look at this?!" I was trained to write an IEP based on New York's system of drop down menus. I've never written everything out. It's crazypants!

Let's face it, there were moments when you read an IEP and you think, "what was this person doing?! I learned nothing from reading this!" 

So, one of my goals for my first year was to write IEPs that focused on strengths, successful strategies, and detailed enough that whoever gets them next, gets a clearer image of the student. I couldn't just do that without setting up a system for myself and my co-teachers. I could be one of those fancy teachers who have a "special education binder" with all the information, but instead, I focused on making sure I had an organizational system and a semi-planned schedule for the year.

Take a look at the process I set up for myself below. I hope it helps you get a system in place for next year!

Week before students arrived:
  • Print out the important parts of the IEP (Intro page, Accommodations/ Modifications, Goals, Promotion Criteria, FBA/BIP)
    • When I was a student teacher, all my special education mentors had hard copies of the IEP in their desk. Some had it in binders, some just had it sitting in a pile. So even when my two veteran learning specialist roomies made fun of me for wasting the ink and paper, I printed out nine IEPs.
  • Label/ Sticky tab the Accommodations/ Modifications and Goals section. 
    • I used post it flags. I wanted these ready to go since I was meeting with my co-teachers for the first time. I didn't want to look real brand new, and I knew these were the first things we were going to look at together. Also this really helps if you don't have an IEP-At-A-Glance, everything is labeled!

  • Color coded file folders with student initials and their school ID number
    • I used red for 6th grade and orange for 7th grade. 
    • The school ID number was based on a whim. I didn't think I was going to need it, but it ended up being super useful when I had to write behavior reports for administration or when students needed them for the REACH assessments.
    • I plopped the IEP right inside. I bought student specific folders to every meeting I had concerning that student. It held running records, self-assessment surveys, data for goals, and student work samples.
Color coded student files with student names & ID codes on the tabs

At the end of the year, I put them all into an expanded file folder.

First & Second week of school:
  • Meet with students 1:1 to talk about my role, what an IEP is, their promotion criteria.
    • This was really to establish with the students who I am and what I do for them. In addition, I firmly believe in "keepin' it real" with middle schoolers. There's a lot of misconceptions (especially this year) that "I can't fail, I have an IEP." Absolutely not, watch me shut that down/ nip it in the bud now!
    • I also wanted to prepare my middle schoolers for the inevitable - when they participate in the IEP meeting. Introducing them to the fact that they have a 20 some odd paged document that details their entire life is the first step into getting them to understand what's going on around them. In addition, by telling them accommodations and modifications, they know what they need and they can begin to practice self-advocating!
  • Have students fill out quick, get to know you surveys.
    • Fast and simple way of getting the student to reflect on their learning and methods that work best for them, while also gathering data for the IEP (interests, strengths, etc). 
  • Hand out IEP-At-A-Glance to co-teachers. 
    • Julia made an awesome IEP-At-A-Glance for us this year. She modeled what she did and explained what to do with it. I've been sharing these with my co-teachers via Google Docs since I was short on paper. It's a great, quick way of introducing your co-teachers to the needs of the student.
Teacher hand outs & student surveys


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