IEP Season in the Time of COVID

week 6

This week, I ventured into yet another new experience: work-from-home IEP season.

Now, IEP season is hard enough under normal, ideal circumstances. We all know the struggles. Even with a semi “relaxing” of expectations, trying to maintain this side of my job has proven to be another kind of difficulty. Let’s review them, shall we?

  1. Baseline data? How’s that supposed to happen? In my district, teletherapy was made available to all parents/students, but they weren’t obliged to take advantage of it. In lieu of therapy, optional packets were provided for them to practice skills and I keep in touch with parents. Students aren’t required to complete any work, whether or academic or therapeutic. So, of course, the students whose parents did not want teletherapy are the very students that I did not begin getting baseline data for prior to the school closure. Oh, I had grand plans coming back from Spring Break. Grand plans that, unfortunately, did not come to fruition. And so, my data is limited for any skills beyond those addressed on this year’s IEP (which, most students were on track to meet for the year and so aren’t really suitable annual goals for the next year). I’ve never had to write an IEP without baseline data. I’ve never had to provide so many observational statements based on what I can remember throughout the year (we were given 2 hours to get what we needed and I have 3 schools - my student work files didn’t make the cut).

  2. Phone conference? Video conference? So many options! Typically, we would all meet sitting around a lovely conference room table (or scattered amongst student desks or crushed around my tiny therapy table - reality). Now, I feel like I’m reading a grocery list of options. “Would you like a phone call? How about a video conference? Which video platform do you prefer? Not sure? Here are a thousand options.”And, not only does that have to make it through the parent, but then also through the teachers and agency representatives as well.

  3. Speaking of - we’re all at home now. Some of us have children. Some of us have spouses also working from home. We’re all living ridiculously different lives now. And the parents? Their daily lives are all over the spectrum. What used to be a relatively easy “Here’s when the teachers are on their planning period, let’s meet then” is now an “Okay, when are you available? How about you? Oh, you have a Zoom classroom meeting that day? Cool. Oh, your job just called you in. Nice. Oh, virtual faculty meetings aren’t on consistent days or times and you don’t find out until Sunday? Lovely. We’ll make it work somehow!” Add to that your own difficulties - which, for me, have included a leaky roof and repairmen - and you have a right good scheduling time ahead of you!

  4. Okay, somehow you wrote the IEP. You managed to schedule. Now, you have to actually meet. I haven’t actually had a meeting yet, but I’m planning ahead for the crazy. “Did I document well enough that the whole world has turned upside down, so this is going to look very different? Is everyone’s mic and video working? Did I get my screen share set up correctly? Maybe I should have emailed the document to everyone as well. We’re on the phone and the parent didn’t have an email address. Slow down, don’t talk so fast - they can’t see what you see. Oops, Internet connection is unstable now - how much do I need to repeat?” It’s going to be a blast, I’m sure!

Meeting start bright and early Monday morning - guess we’ll see how it all turns out!

How are you handling IEP season? On the bright side, my tea kettle is now going to be a consistent 10 steps away from my meeting table, so PG Tips will get me through the days!