Sunday, December 16, 2007

Something Different

Something that happened at school on Friday has stuck in my mind all weekend. Here, in my fourth year of teaching, I finally attended an IEP meeting that was exactly like IEP meetings are supposed to be...well, almost exactly. The parent did not attend. However, there were three teachers, a parent advocate, an advocate from the region, a speech therapist, and the school psychologist.

There has been the rare well-attended IEP meeting from time to time, but even those have been just people showing up, signing page 2 of the IEP before reading it, a brief discussion, then goodbyes.

This one was different in that it was true collaboration. I have a student who has serious issues that we are not able to fully handle with our staff limitations and our general environment. However, one thing makes me very hesitant to move him to a more restrictive environment: my experience working in that environment. I expressed my concern about him becoming "lost in the system" and the fear that he would learn even worse behaviors without attaining any real help.

The seven of us discussed possible solutions for over an hour. Everyone had read all the anecdotals, focused on the child's needs and behaviors and successes, and was expressing opinions and ideas in a productive manner. It was textbook in its beauty, and I feel that we reached the best possible decision for this particular student, as well as exhausting many, many other options.

This IEP meeting has been one of the best experiences I have had as a teacher. I don't know why it's so difficult to make this happen more frequently. In fact, I am one of those teachers who has started to come to the conclusion that the IEP process is frequently a useless document, especially since it is in no way based in reality once the bureacratic rules of the NYC school system have gotten involved. Friday's experience proved to me that the IEP can indeed be an "individualized education program," rather than wasted words on wasted paper.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Sadly, that type of meeting is the rarity in my experience.

It is nice to hear that this student was well served by the process - and everyone involved.

What happened that allowed this meeting to be different?