For families whose child has a documented disability, the start of a new school year brings a new meeting with teachers and school officials to talk about the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). These meetings can be nerve-wracking for families, who may be worried that their dreams for their child will go unheard, or that they’ll be criticized for behavioral problems. And they might be utterly bewildered by the amount of jargon used to describe their child’s needs.
By keeping these concerns in mind, teachers can use IEP meetings to strengthen school-family partnerships, rather than strain them. Here, we offer strategies for teachers to make families an equitable partner in IEP meetings. This advice comes from Powerful Partnerships: A Teacher’s Guide to Engaging Families for Student Success, by family engagement experts Karen Mapp, Ilene Carver, and Jessica Lander.