This post is a reflection on the IEP (individual education plan) meeting I attended for my son recently. I don’t mean any of this as a criticism of the school, but simply as observations and a reflection from my perspective as a parent (and yes, as an educator).
The first thing was (and to be honest, I thought of this before the meeting), where was my son’s invitation to attend the meeting? Surely, if we’re looking at his education plan then he should be involved – especially by Year 7. He may or may not have much to contribute, but he should be given the opportunity. I did actually ask him if he would like to attend, but as he was already home, sick, he decided he’d rather stay in the warm house! If he had already been at school, I might have asked for him to attend. I really think it’s important that the child attend these meetings to bring the focus back to learning rather than what will the teachers do all the time. The child then also knows what is going on and was a part of the decision making. As it turned out it was more about “this is what we want for him” and “this is what we (the school) will do to make it happen”.
The second thing was that as the parent, I felt that I should have been invited to speak first. This was possibly just an oversight, but I do believe the parent (if not the child) should be invited to speak first in this type of meeting. The reason I feel this way is that otherwise the school staff drive the conversation and concerns of the family get relegated to the end rather than brought out at the start.
Thirdly, education jargon needs to go. Yes you’re in a room full of educators, but most parents are not. Not everyone understands what a stanine is or what “5b” means in relation to asTTle. I did, but they didn’t know I was in education until I pointed it out later on.
Interestingly, my son had his goal-setting interview the day before the IEP meeting. I would have thought, therefore, that his goals would have been a part of his IEP. But this was not the case. It seemed to me to be more focused on what the teachers would do. Yes, it was to help raise his achievement in various aspects and support him, but there was no onus on him to do anything.
Finally, don’t rush. An IEP meeting is not one that you should rush through. These are important decisions being made about the future of a child. As a teacher, it might not be the only child you need to consider, but for the parent in the room, right then, their child is the most important person on the planet. Rushing can make it feel like you don’t want to be there or that the meeting is just a bit more of a bother for you.