Five Tips on How to Prepare for an IEP Meeting

Qualities Every IEP Team Member Should Have

As an experienced speech language pathologist (SLP), I have learned some key qualities necessary to being an effective IEP team member— and I would like to pass them on to you. I interact with many of my colleagues throughout the school day, including teachers, the school psychologist, the guidance counselor, social workers, a range of other therapists, case managers, and parents. Each member of our special education team brings their expertise and professionalism to the job. Cooperation between you and your team members means understanding each person’s role and communicating effectively— his is the first step to preparing for an IEP meeting.

Simply reviewing a Pennsylvania IEP sample is not sufficient to mentally prepare you for the professional interactions and duties you will have. Below are my top five tips to help you get  ready for your next IEP meeting. Each is equally important and necessary for you to serve as an effective team member.

Five Qualities to Help You Prepare for an IEP Meeting

  1. Collaboration
    In a school setting, you will be working closely with members of the IEP team on a daily basis. Ongoing collaboration with these professionals can help you reach consensus to develop the best IEP for your students. An ideal approach to team-based services is known as interprofessional collaborative practice (IPP), referring to when multiple service providers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive healthcare or educational services by working with individuals, caregivers, families, and communities. I am grateful to work among an extensive team of professionals who value collective work efforts as much as I do.
  2. Flexibility
    Flexibility must be each therapist’s middle name! We sometimes must switch gears on a moment’s notice. A key part of serving your IEP team is being able to do what is needed, when it is needed. Flexibility demonstrates that you are dedicated to your role and advancing the goals of each of your students.
  3. Organization
    Through my work experiences, I have developed and honed my organization skills. SLPs have large caseloads and tight schedules, so we need the appropriate tools and mentality to organize our days.First and foremost, information for an IEP needs to be kept and presented in an organized manner. Consistently updating the data ensures other team members will understand the students’ present education levels, clear goals, and frequency of therapy. Organization enables you to effectively share your valuable information at an IEP meeting and while reducing the stress of your job.
  4. Communication
    As an SLP, you must be an expert in communication, specifically during the IEP process. Before, during, and after the IEP, all professionals involved need to engage in conversations about the student’s goals and progress. Valuable information comes from each and every team member. The school psychologist I work with shared information about a child’s testing with me. She asked if she could observe me with the child. During this observation, she gained positive data that changed her impression of the child’s abilities. The key was communication between professionals for effective IEP planning.
  5. Responsibility
    As a therapist, you must take responsibility for the portion of the student’s IEP that you develop. When it comes to IEPs, the responsibilities are divided up, so you don’t have to be an expert in all areas covered. However, taking charge of the portion that you specialize in and presenting data in an informed fashion will lead team members to view you as organized, dependable, and valuable.

For more tips on how to prepare for an IEP meeting, and for more information about PTS services, contact us today!

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