IEP meetings are an ideal opportunity for school occupational therapists to collaborate with our students’ IEP teams to ensure our kids have a successful year and achieve their goals. Here are four tips for school OTs on being active and effective members of our students’ IEP teams.
1. Be a team player.
It is important to remember that as a member of the IEP team, there are many tasks we need to complete before and during IEP meetings to ensure we are successfully filling our roles. Communicating with all IEP team members (including parents, teachers, students, and other service providers) before the meeting will make for more successful IEP meetings. This will enable the other team members to have time to process the information and come prepared to the meeting with questions and discussion points.
2. Be prepared.
It is essential to prepare thorough documentation before each IEP meeting, including present levels of performance and updated OT IEP goals. This should be based on data collection regarding the students’ goals throughout the year. It is helpful to bring this data and work samples to the IEP meeting to share with the team and to justify your recommendations. Having work samples present also helps ensure the conversation remains student-centered during the meeting.
3. Be professional.
We can be professional during IEP meetings by listening to all suggestions and opinions of other team members. We must remain flexible and open to adjusting our occupational therapy recommendations based on the IEP meeting discussions. We can also show respect for the team by communicating our opinion and recommendations clearly. This includes using language that the entire team can understand. It is important to take the time to define acronyms and jargon.
4. Be Positive.
It is helpful to focus on the student’s strengths and growth toward their goals during IEP meetings. Although the IEP meeting is designed to address areas of need and set related goals, we should also focus on the positive strides the student has made. Focusing on this will help the IEP meeting remain positive and solution-focused.
With these tips for a successful IEP paired with your strengths and skills as a school OT, you’ll play an active role in setting your students up for success!
Bring your specialized occupational therapy skills to help kids who need you most in an exciting school OT job with Cross Country Education.