Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Reading and Charting IEPs: Individualized Education Plans

The IEPs are piled on my desk at home awaiting my reading and analysis. I resist this task because the documents are not reader-friendly. Instead the plans are complex to read and understand. Yet, I know that I have to read those IEPs if I plan to advocate for students' fair and legal service delivery.

I was a student before the IEP and I saw what happened to students with unidentified and unsupported learning disabilities--those students suffered in school, and many later suffered and struggled in life. School was a nightmare for many of those children--children who were labeled as dumb, behavioral problems, and unable to learn. I am thankful for laws and processes which aim to serve every child in school well--laws and rules that prompt educators to think deeply about who a child is and what he or she needs to learn well.

As I read through the IEPs, I'll chart each students' goals, expected services, and service delivery time. I'll also make a list of ways that I'll personalize the teaching/learning program for those students throughout the year. I'll bring my lists to our scheduling meeting to make sure that children get the time and attention they are required to get, and I'll carefully work with special educators to schedule their support time at the best possible learning/teaching times--times that will serve those students well.

Jose Vilson tweeted this morning that every teacher needs to be a special educator. I believe that is true, and the state of Massachusetts embraces that notion too since every Massachusetts' educator has to have professional development points in special education to recertify--they are moving teachers in the direction of understanding special education in order to best promote inclusive, successful learning/teaching environments for all students.

With the onset of wonderful technology, it's time for us to rethink how we promote inclusion and serve all students including special education students. It's time to remake the special education path to better serve students utilizing the many intelligent assistants available via staffing, technology, new research, and more. The walls that prevented students from learning well in the past have mostly been taken down thanks to the terrific abilities of technology, and it's our job as teachers to use that technology in ways that empower students in ways that help them learn and succeed in meaningful, relevant, satisfying ways.