View the movie below and then proceed to the Initial Thoughts section (time: 2:52).
Mr. Anaya is a first-year special education teacher at Washington County Elementary School. The assistant principal, Mrs. Pederson, has just emailed him about an upcoming IEP meeting for Sienna, a 4th-grade student whose initial evaluation was just completed. This will be Mr. Anaya’s first IEP team meeting. He learned a lot about IEPs in college and had lots of practice writing the various components as part of his course assignments. He even attended several IEP meetings during his student-teaching semester. But now he’s going to be involved in the process for real and is a bit nervous. If the IEP team determines that Sienna is eligible for special education services, Mr. Anaya wants to make sure that she has a high-quality IEP that is geared to address her individual needs. He also wants to be sure her IEP contains challenging and meaningful learning goals that will guide his instruction.
To prepare for the IEP meeting, Mr. Anaya talks to Mrs. Pederson.
Mr. Anaya: I noticed the meeting is only scheduled for 45 minutes. I’m wondering how we’re going to get everything done in such a short timeframe.
Mrs. Pederson: Don’t worry. There’s plenty of time. Mrs. Esposito has already started pulling Sienna’s learning goals into her IEP. She’s using a computerized program.
Mr. Anaya: Really? You can do that?
Mrs. Pederson: Oh, yeah! It’s got a bank of pre-developed items to select from. It’s super easy to use. The IEP’s practically done. We just have to share it with the parents and have them sign it.
Mr. Anaya: But if I’m the one going to the IEP meeting, why is Mrs. Esposito working on the IEP?
Mrs. Pederson: Well, Mrs. Esposito has an available slot in her classroom, so she will probably be Sienna’s teacher. I asked you to attend because she’s not available at that time. As long as we have a special education teacher at the meeting, it really doesn’t matter who it is. Anyway, Mrs. Dubois—you’ve met her, right?—she’s Sienna’s 4th-grade teacher. Well, she can only be there for 20 minutes while her class is at recess. I think it’ll be a quick meeting.
Mr. Anaya is now more nervous than ever. The process at Washington County Elementary is quite different from what he learned about in college, and it is nothing like what he experienced during student teaching. He wonders whether he should just sit quietly during this meeting and then take a more active role in future meetings, once he has learned how Washington County Elementary does things.
Here is your Challenge:
What is an IEP?
What is the IEP process?
What is included in the IEP document?