The IEP & Co-teaching: Getting your Co-teacher Onboard

Friday, June 26, 2015
Here's the worst thing I've heard this year: 6 months into the academic year, two teachers admitted that they never once read the IEP, nor did they know how to access it. SAY WHAT?! *face palms

Let's face it, there is still the idea that "those are the special kids" or "those kids are yours." It is in no way correct nor are the teachers who say those things aware that they are still responsible for that child's education. It's part of their professional responsibilities!

You gotta get your co-teacher ready, sell it to them, and make it as simple as possible. I mean, even if it's giving them a quick talk about what accommodations, modifications, goals, disabilities, and/or what the FBA and BIP are all about. I did this real late in the game and I totally regret it. How do you do this though?

An IEP-At-A-Glance. Yeah, I'm still on this. I've said this over and over again - "Julia made this and gave it to me." I've used it for so many things. I mean seriously, it's just so handy!

Beginning of the Year:
  • My co-teacher met with me and we immediately opened IEPs. How do I co-plan without figuring out what the population will look like? We went through the reading levels, disabilities, and goals. 
  • We looked at the curriculum plan and how we could modify or accommodate for the student (i.e. looked at rubrics, assignments to modify, finding articles online that we could have read aloud, etc).
What's the issue here? We did it verbally. Also, this was just one co-teacher. The rest of mine weren't there yet or they requested that they have time to set up their classroom. Fair enough. Anyways, she forgot everything I told her. She eventually did the "your kids" thing, and handed the kids to me when I arrived in the classroom.

The awesome teachers are able to open IEPs up and figure out how to use the IEP to their advantage. The teachers who aren't so great or really needs to reprioritize are the ones that don't open them up at all. Instead, they'll say that it's the Learning Specialists job or that they just do so much in the day that they can't stop and read an IEP. I can sit here and talk about how wrong both comments are for days, but it all ends with the fact that as a teacher, no matter what certification, you are responsible for that child. You must teach that child, you must meet their needs, you must support them. If you can't handle it, you probably shouldn't be in this gig.

Solutions:
  • Set up a shared Google Drive folder - whenever my teacher emailed me with the next days materials, any modifications I made I uploaded into the mega folder. I didn't attach it, why? Because I wanted her to be accountable for the students too. Yes, they are the gen. ed. teacher, but they have to know what's going on with these students!
  • I used Julia's IEP-At-A-Glance and handed them out to teachers. A different co-teacher I worked with, sat down and talked with me about this. She wanted our students to do well, so we focused on what procedures to follow for assignments and projects. Throughout the year, she immediately knew what to do for each of the students.
  • BIP flowcharts/simplified versions for teachers. We'll talk about this another day, I feel like this is an entirely different monster.

Let's focus on the IEP-At-A-Glance, shall we? It's a break down of everything in the IEP. All that stuff that's in there overwhelms teachers for some reason. So Julia really broke it all down to: disability, test scores, minutes per content, minutes per services, goals for the year, and how they can be met in the classroom.

You can't get any easier than that. In one sheet of paper, you've given a good picture of the student's needs. The gen. ed teacher should understand that you're planning based on the goal. Thus, the section where "how can it be met" really helps both teachers plan out the school year. It's on paper too, thus both teachers can refer to this instead of the entire IEP. It's an awesome resource for both teachers! 

Have you used an IEP-At-A-Glance before? What did you add to it?

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