Planning for Student Centered IEP Meetings

Student centered IEP meeting prep

A student working on self-evaluating her progress toward her goals

Over the next few weeks I’m going to have parents come into my room to discuss their child’s learning plan for next year. And I’m going to turn the meeting over to the student. It’s the first time I’ve ever done student centered IEP meetings (or ILP–Individual Learning Plan–meetings as they’re called in my school). And I’m terrified. But I’m also very excited.

Step 1: Completing Digital Portfolios for the Year

I took the first step toward having students self-reflect more and take more responsibility for their own learning when I tried out digital portfolios with my M2 students this year. For me, the logical next step was to have students do a final self-reflection at the end of the year that led to them evaluating their own progress, and then helping to lead their own student centered IEP meetings. I’m also trying this with my M3 students, who, as you may remember,don’t go in for all that touchy-feely nonsense” like self-reflection and growth mindset. We’ll see how that goes.

Step 2: Self-Evaluation and Setting New Goals

After my students completed their portfolio work, they evaluated their progress on a more global level in order to prepare them to help lead their student centered IEP meetings: How do all of these examples of various skills within a broader goal to show progress? What do I still have left to learn? What’s the next step? How can I continue to improve next year?

Student centered IEP meeting goal setting

A student working on goal setting for his student centered IEP meeting

The students filled out the form below, describing their goal, choosing evidence from their portfolio to demonstrate their progress, rating their progress, explaining the rating, and then, with some guidance from me, setting a new goal.

Student-centered IEP meeting goal self-evaluation sheet

The goal reflection/self-evaluation sheet for our student-centered IEP meeting planning.

For the most part, they were able to evaluate their own progress. There were some students who were really hard on themselves. Those students needed redirection to focus on their progress as an individual, rather than comparing themselves to others. There were also some who immediately said they had met all of their goals, without evaluating their progress in their portfolios. These tended to be the same students who didn’t want to complete portfolio work when it was scheduled. Next year, I’d like to spend more time modeling how to evaluate progress toward a goal. I thought that the amount of evaluation we did when working on portfolios would be enough, but it really wasn’t.

Step 3: Evaluating Accommodations

Next, we moved on to evaluating how well accommodations worked and what new accommodations we should try for next year.

Student centered IEP meeting: evaluating accommodations

Student working on evaluating his accommodations (clearly keyboarding is one of them)

Here it became clear to me that even though I thought I had done a good job empowering my students to be advocates for their own learning, the students didn’t really understand their accommodations. When we went through them their response was often “teachers don’t really do that.” This, of course, may not be totally accurate, because a lot of these things happen behind the scenes. It was concerning, though, that the students weren’t always aware of what their accommodations were. I think next year at the beginning of the year, we’ll review the learning plans again so that students know what their accommodations are, and maybe have a few specific lessons on how to self-advocate.

Personal butlers are not IEP accommodations. Sorry.

This kid was really disappointed that a personal butler was not a possible accommodation.

I also (see above) should really spend a little more time discussing what accommodations are and aren’t. Wanting a personal butler notwithstanding, I was surprised that many students didn’t understand why they got specific accommodations. I expected to have to explain what was possible, but didn’t realized I would have to explain what their accommodations meant. I remember doing it earlier in the year. Maybe it’s a matter of revisiting throughout the year.

Step 4: Prepare for the Student-Centered IEP Meeting

Our last step was to prep for the meeting. Students completed an organizer where they decided how they might introduce themselves, their parents, and me, and how they would explain the purpose of the meeting. We talked about how much leadership each student was comfortable with taking, and decided on signals they could use if they needed me to take over. Then, each student took turns role playing their meeting.

I’m really excited by how confident and empowered my students seem while we’re going through this process. I really hope that they’ll feel successful when they complete their meetings and that next year they’ll take more ownership of their goals as we work on them. I’ll follow up soon with how these student centered IEP meetings went and what I’d like to do differently next year.

Have you ever done a student centered IEP meeting? What were your experiences?

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One Response to Planning for Student Centered IEP Meetings

  1. Matt Renwick June 3, 2015 at 10:10 pm #

    Samantha, here is observed happening in your classroom through your description:
    – Students were in the driver’s seat with their learning. You were their guide.
    – The process involved questions that promoted deeper thinking and were scaffolded with age-appropriate templates.
    – You reflected on this year’s process and made plans for next year.
    – Through this process, you uncovered misconceptions, such as students knowing their accommodations (and who wouldn’t want a personal butler? :-).
    – The end-of-the-year portfolio showcase was independent, although you were still available to provide support discretely.

    Overall, I am very impressed with the level of authentic student assessment occurring in your classroom, Samantha. You have much to be proud and are a model for other educators. Most importantly, I think your students have greatly benefited from this process. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that they made more gains this year and next year than in any proceeding years. Kudos to you.

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