An Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a collaborative document customized to each student. The IEP team is made of special and general education teachers as well as parents, therapists, and other members, all working together to support the student the document is created for. Having strong, respectful relationships with your related service providers and general education teachers is key.
Building these relationships takes time. We all have different teaching techniques and communication styles. Finding the right rhythm takes effort but it is a necessary step at the beginning of each school year. I have some pointers to help you get started as well as a freebie at the end of the blog!
Start out by finding out the easiest way for you to communicate with team members. Is a weekly meeting feasible? Is email a better way to check-in? Would an hour-long planning session once a month do the trick? If you are on the same page with your team members, it will allow you to maximize the time you do have together and make sure that everyone feels like their communication needs are being met.
It’s also helpful to plan out what exactly needs to be discussed. This might seem like a no-brainer, but the more you can get laid out on the table, the less miscommunication happens later down the line. Do you need to know the general education teachers’ plan for science two days ahead or a whole week ahead? Do you want to know if your speech therapist has a theme planned for the month so you can incorporate it? Be sure to lay that expectation out! Also, find out what your team members need to know from you.
My freebie is designed to help you as you work with your colleague. In the download, you will get two different pages. The first page is ideal to use at the beginning of the school year. This page lets the team members get on the same page for the classroom expectation and each person’s role in facilitating it.
Don’t get stuck mid-year not being sure what your role is in the general education classroom or feeling like your related service provider isn’t doing something that you think they should. Lay the expectations out so everyone knows what to do and when to do it.
The second sheet is a lesson planning sheet. This is perfect to plan a collaborative lesson together and again, each member knows exactly what their expectation is. Figure out what IEP goals and academic concepts can be targeted in the lesson, and what you and the other team members are going to create or prepare for the lesson. This is another way to open the lines of communication and develop well-rounded lessons that target multiple goals.
A couple of things to remember when working with team members. First, be confident! You know your students and your field. Speak up for what you need and what they need. Also, be respectful. Your teammates also know their field and they want the best for the students as well. Listen and collaborate with them. Don’t be afraid of compromise. A small compromise can go a long way to making the relationship work.
Be sure to grab those freebies to help! They are available for download in my resource library. Sign up for it here.