IEP Meetings have changed over the past few weeks. Social Distancing, Distance Learning have forced the implementation of Virtual IEP Meetings. Do not wait for the upcoming school year to request an IEP meeting. Once we transition back to a new “normal” and the school year begins, there is going to be a lot of people that will be in line to have meetings with the school. Anything you experience for the first time is a little intimidating but I have some tips and tricks to help you feel confident.
Virtual IEP Meeting Preparations
1. Request a copy of the data and IEP: It is still important to request a draft copy of the IEP. You need access to the same information as the rest of the IEP Team and you will need a copy to refer to doing the meeting. It won’t be possible to get a copy the day of the meeting if you are hosting it virtually.
2. Establish which technology to use: In order to have a virtual IEP meeting, you will need to establish two ways to communicate. For example, if you will be meeting through a conferencing application, like ZOOM, you need to establish a telephone line to host the meeting as well. The internet can be fickle, especially since everyone is completing work and school from home, and its better to have a backup plan.
3. Share your data: The final way to prepare for a Virtual IEP is to complete a Parent Input Statement and review your child’s IEP. Attach your Input Statement and concerns from your review in an email to the team. You should never dump concerns on the team for the first time at the IEP Meeting. Allow your team to think of ideas to meet the unique needs of your child and facilitate an environment of collaboration and communication.
During a Virtual IEP Meeting
Following the same schedule and routine completed during a normal IEP meeting is highly encouraged to help settle the anxieties of everyone participating. It is important to keep yourself aware of some additional things to create a positive meeting experience for everyone involved.
1. Hit the Mute Button if you are not speaking. A little background noise may not seem like much but when you multiply that by each member of the team, that creates unnecessary chaos.
2. Utilize the Chat Box. If you have questions, drop them in the Chat Box. Those Chat Boxes are great to document your questions and concerns as the meeting progresses. It also documents the answer to those questions and concerns.
3. Your camera is not necessary. I think the biggest concern of those participating in Virtual IEP Meetings is they do not want to be on camera. Guess what? That’s perfectly okay! You do not have to be seen to be heard during a Virtual Meeting!
After the Meeting: The Follow Up
Just because the meeting is over, does not mean you are done. It is important to establish answers to these follow up questions:
- Who is responsible for what and when will it be completed?
- How do I ask follow up questions? Get everyone’s email.
- When should I expect papers?
Keep in mind that your virtual IEP meetings will feel different but they do not have to be difficult. Times are changing and creating new and unique experiences for the special needs community. Stay calm and focused. The purpose of the meetings has not changed. Communication and collaboration are more important now than ever. Take a deep breath, you got this!
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