In my new role as school administrator, I’m finding that I’m sitting in meeting after meeting representing administration. I used to hate meetings when I was a teacher, and guess what.I still hate meetings.
I guess that’s kind of strong language, but really it’s not the meetings that I hate. It’s more the lack of efficiency in meeting that is frustrating.
Meeting are important and an essential part of a student’s education. Parent and teachers have to meet to discuss the progress, or lack of progress of a student. There has to be meetings to evaluate if a student needs to be in a special program or not, etc.
I understand the need for these meetings, as well as the need for an administrative representation in these meetings.
The most common type of meeting that I’m required to be in is call the IEP meeting.
IEP stands for Individualized Education Program. Students who are in a special education program are required to have an IEP. These IEPs are evaluated periodically and a meeting is held with the parents, teachers, student and administration to go over progress and goals.
What I’ve come to find, however, is that so much valuable time is being wasted in these meetings, so I thought I’d come up with a tutorial on how to conduct an effective, yet efficient IEP meeting.
I might step on a few toes with this tutorial, but hopefully, it will lead to some shorter, yet more productive meetings, which will be better for all.
Here we go:
How to Conduct an Effective, Yet Efficient IEP Meeting
Here the person conducting the meeting will go around the table having each member of the meeting introduce themselves.
2. Statement of Purpose of the Meeting
Why is everybody gathered? “The purpose of this meeting is to review the student’s progress and evaluate if he/she should continue in the program.”
3. Classroom Teachers share
Have each classroom teacher share his/her observations of the student. How is the student doing in their class? Behavior issues? Etc.
4. Parent(s) share
Have the parent(s) share what they see at home or if they have any concerns about how the student is progressing.
5. Student share
Sometimes it’s good to get the student’s point of view. Most students won’t talk a lot, so it’s not that big of a deal, but sometimes teachers or parents will prod and prod, which is another time waster.
It may be a good idea to ask the parent if he/she has any questions for the teachers. If not, I would excuse the teachers from the meeting. Any goals or strategies that involve the teachers can be communicated to them at a later time. Teachers have a lot to do. Sitting in meetings where they don’t really need to be in anymore is not a good use of their time. Teachers will also appreciate it if you release them early.
6. Current Progress
This is where the person conducting the meeting will share the student’s current progress in his/her studies. The teachers will have probably covered most of this, but if there is more to share with the parent(s), this is the time.
7. Assessment Results
Share with the parent(s) the results of any recent assessments, and their influence in the educational plan.
What are the next benchmarks that the IEP team will be working toward? There is normally a goal for writing, reading and math.
9. Strategies for Future Success
How will the goals be met? What strategies will be implemented to help the student reach his/her goals? This can be the use of a daily planner or a promise of scheduled communications between the school and the parent.
10. Responsibilities for Student/Parent/Teachers/Admin
Who does what? The meeting needs to have a component where the each member of the team leaves with a particular job to do. For example, the parent can take on the responsibility to check that the daily planner is filled out and then sign and return with the student. The teachers will take on the responsibility to send the parent an email if there is a particular concern, etc.
11. Summary of Meeting
To close the meeting, just review what was discussed in the meeting. It serves to bring the meeting to a close and to show the parent(s) that much was accomplished to help the student.
There are always papers to sign. Make sure parents have a copy.
Thank the parent(s) for coming in, and say your good-byes.
Common Time Wasters
1. Personal stories
“When I was his age…” “A couple weeks ago…” “There was another student who…” It’s so easy to fall into the story trap. Even parents will start telling stories about themselves or their other children. Stories, although can be interesting, serve only to eat up valuable time and take the focus away from the purpose of the meeting.
“There’s an important quote that comes to mind…” “If you don’t turn things around now, you’re going to end up dropping out of school…” “There’s an old fable that teaches a good lesson…” Stop it! I must admit, I am guilty of doing this. Teachers love to teach. That’s what we do. It’s who we are, and any opportunity to teach someone a lesson, we don’t hesitate. What better opportunity than in a meeting where we only have one student to focus on? Lectures are for the classroom, not the IEP meeting.
“Why do you feel this way?” “Is there something going on at home?” “If you could make your world better…” The IEP meeting is not a place for counseling. If there is suspicion that the student needs counseling, make an appointment with the counselor. That’s his/her job.
I know there are times when a good inspirational story that is just what the student needs, but not during an IEP.
It may be difficult, but an administrator needs to be able to refocus the conversation back to the original intent of the meeting.
Do you agree?
Can we make this post a necessary read for all administrators and meeting-conductors?
Is meeting-conductors a word?
I hope this was helpful.
Until next time,
Here’s to your journey toward School Administration Mastery!