No More IEP Parties! (Ep 142)

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IEP Parties are not what you think they are... 

I've spent the last few months traveling across the country to work with both Special Education and General Education teachers and one conversation really caught my attention!

One of my favorite things to teach is the difference between Special Education laws, policies, and habits - what are they and what does it look like for your student? A teacher brought up how her school used to have IEP Parties, where they would pass out IEPs to teachers. Now, teachers, you probably know that you have to sign a sheet that says something like "Yes I have received this IEP" when you first get the document. That's a normal part of the process for most teachers, admin, and therapists that work directly with students and their IEPs. For many states, the document doesn't say that the teacher has read or understands how to implement the IEP — just that they received it. Really??

The teacher I was speaking with called this an IEP Party. After talking with my Network of Master IEP Coaches®, this is apparently a commonplace practice! One Coach even mentioned that their school would have a dedicated room for teachers to come pick up their stack of IEPs and grab treats from a candy/snack stash to entice teachers to come get their documents... WHAT?!  

NO. Just NO. We have to do better! That's not how you introduce a legally-binding document to those who are responsible for its implementation! IEP distribution is just one part of the process— we have to make sure that our teachers A) read the IEP, B) understand what's expected of them, and C) have answers to the questions that will definitely come up. 

Now, I know that we can't stop IEP Parties and that it probably saves our Special Education teachers some time, but can we do better at least? Here are my suggestions: 

  1.  I want every teacher to understand what they are accountable for in the IEP. This means that no matter what your role is on the IEP team, you have to communicate with each of the other members and make sure they know their part in this plan as well. Make the plan, execute the plan, and follow up with all team members throughout the process.
  2.  Let's clarify what it looks like in the classroom. Follow up with your IEP team members about what their modifications and accommodations look like for that specific child. Preferential seating looks totally different for Johnny than it does for Sam. Clarify what you're asking of them and help brainstorm how that can work for each classroom that child visits throughout the day.
  3.  Make sure every teacher is able to be compliant with what's required of them. Is the teacher capable of delivering their part of the IEP? Do they need more training? Do they have the time available to provide the service minutes prescribed?

The bottom line is that IEP Parties are not okay if there's not also follow-through to ensure that teachers know their part of the plan, what that specifically looks like, and the training and support to provide services for that particular child. 


Do you need a professional development session for teachers in your school on how to understand IEPs and how to implement them inside your classroom, especially in gen ed rooms? I do that! Send me a message at [email protected]. I can't wait to work with you and your school!


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