I think that most educators will agree that there is distance between Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) and classroom program standards and goals. The IEPs are essentially targeted more on an individual's progress and specific learning while the classroom standards and goals are more in line with a program for all students. How do we bridge this distance?
As I think about the IEP and what seems like a very wordy, complex document, I recognize the need to look deeply at those documents this summer so that I understand well what each student is supposed to receive in terms of time and supports. While I've read the documents in the past, I've never given them the deep attention I plan to give them over the summer. I plan to turn the lengthy, wordy IEPs into teaching shortlists that I can quickly reference to understand what that child needs during the curriculum program.
I am also going to look closely at the time a child gets for all of his/her services so that I am aware of that time prior to any scheduling meetings. To understand the time and focus well prior to scheduling will help me to schedule with the special needs educators and other specialists and therapists with greater fidelity. This kind of close evaluation may also help me to think about how we can match services and supports better too. For example students learn to keyboard in tech class, and students often have keyboarding goals on their IEPs--it could be that tech class and OT are combined for some students to meet both teaching/IEP goals at the same time.
There's a lot to think about as we start the school year. There is very little official time devoted to actually planning for and preparing for the school year. The time set aside is equal to two days yet the work that needs to be done is probably equal to two weeks. This is a great mismatch and while many teachers give two weeks of time to prep and prepare for the year ahead by unpacking boxes, setting up rooms, preparing curriculum, and more because that time is not official it does not lead to the needed teamwork and collaboration to truly get the year off to a tremendous start with regard to service delivery, program coordination, IEP understanding and more.
I am going to think about this over the summer as I read and dissect student IEPs. Onward.