This is the last in a series of six articles discussing Successful IEP Teaching, written specifically TO the educator. Although I am writing it in this voice, it is equally helpful for anyone involved in Individual Education Programs, regardless of which side of the table you are sitting. I believe that if we all have the ability to keep an open mind and look at things from the perspective of another, we can learn to be more productive towards the main goal, helping students.
If you are a teacher who is frustrated by IEP’s, you owe it to yourself to read this series with an open mind. If teaching is becoming a daily chore that you struggle to enjoy, maybe it’s time to try a new approach.
We see a lot of information devoted to helping parents develop a better understanding of the IEP, but nothing for the teacher. Teaching a student with an Individual Education Program doesn’t have to be a frustrating experience. If everyone involved takes the time to determine the meaning of the document, we can all work together to create a positive, rewarding outcome for everyone involved.
We’ve been discussing the purpose and meaning of the information within the IEP document section by section, and how educators can use that information to relieve frustrations instead of creating more. In this segment, we will explore aspects of different modifications and accommodations available with the IEP.
Within every IEP, there should be a section that describes the types of services and supports that the child needs in order to fully benefit from his educational plan. This is where we will actually develop a specific plan of action based, again, on all of the information provided earlier in the document.
How do we determine what supports should be included in the IEP?
When we look at the entire document with a full understanding of all of the components, and the role they play, we can clearly perceive how they finally come together to form a plan that is complete, addressing any and all factors that may impede the success of the student.
- What is the student’s specific disability?
- What is his current level of academic and functional performance?
- Are there any special considerations?
What can be provided as a support?
Anything can be provided as a support. If the team has identified a specific problem or issue related to the student’s disability that impedes his success, they can provide whatever support they deem effective and necessary to ensure he benefits from his education plan. These could include, wheel chair lifts, Braille textbooks, or language therapy, but small group or individual instruction, specific seating, teacher provided notes, or modified assignments. In addition to these types of supports, it may be necessary to include items such as additional staff training in specific teaching strategies or behavioral management techniques. It may include the support of a consultation from a trained Behavior Analyst to provide better understanding of behaviors and develop effective techniques to minimize the behaviors: There are no pre-determined lists of supports that can be provided. If it impedes the progress, any effective support is appropriate and can be included in the IEP.
One of the most significant factors in the success of any IEP is for parents, teachers and staff to understand the meaning of the plan and how it will enable this student to succeed. If you, or a member of the team is filling in the blanks with a “standard” response and placing an “X” in the same box at each IEP meeting, then you do not understand the meaning of the document and you are creating a meaningless plan that will fail. You owe it to those struggling students, parents, other educators and yourself to develop a better understanding.
To get additional information and training on these and other educational topics, call your states Department of Education and ask what training they have available.