What IEP Parents Want You to Know

A few weeks ago, a newish teacher tweeted at me. She asked what we wanted her to know.

I’m never one to pass up an opportunity, so yeah! We answered. I put the query in the Facebook group for a week or so, and here are the responses. First, here’s the tweet.

RSP teacher

I wanted to have her exact words, because one of the parents responded specifically about the Woodcock Johnson (a common IEP eval)

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Some teachers do no not hold the appropriate credentials for determining low incidence needs. Be a team player and bring in the appropriate people when these students are identified.


Know the law so you aren’t told by special education directors to break them.


You have no idea what it’s like for a parent to put so many of their hopes and dreams for their child into one school document that is rarely followed.


1) Presume competence. (of the child). 2) Despite what they teach you in school, eval/assessments results will never tell you the full story, they don’t reflect what the child can do. 3) Learn how the child learns. Find out the motivators.

dear iep team

1. Behavior is communication.

2. Just because a child cannot do something now doesn’t mean they never will.

3. Patience is a virtue.

4. Know your students’ rights.

5. Think outside the box, what works for one may not work for all.

6. Drop your ego.

7. Listen to the child AND the parents.

8. Do your own research for strategies and evidence based methods

9. Kids do well, when they can—if they aren’t doing well look at what skills they are lagging

10. Don’t baby talk or treat them all like toddlers.


Build upon competencies.


Remember that sometimes the parents have undiagnosed and diagnosed disabilities (and/or may be 2E).


Listen to the parent who knows this child inside out – ask them about THAT child’s subtle cues (&what they mean) SO many of our kids “tell” you they’re about to have a problem but if you don’t know that signal, you’ll miss the cue & be caught off guard….Celebrate tiny steps. Some days they are TINY. Look for them. Look harder. They are there… find them. Notice them. Celebrate them. Then watch that child sit a little taller because SOMEONE noticed something POSITIVE he or she did. For ONCE…..Children **GENERALLY** have an innate desire to be successful and please. Consider a child CANNOT do something before you jump to assuming they are willfully refusing. Remember on the rough days….The child is NOT “giving” you a hard time. That child is HAVING a hard time. Shift that mentality and other things become more clear.


Woodcock Johnson only tells you the child’s worst performance. If they have zero supports that they need to access learning, how can these tests show anything useful? I’m so over them. Give my child a test WITH their regular supports/SDIs and then tell me what he can do!


Create a STRENGTH based IEP with SMART goals…and please please please do not list a strength of my child as being “cute” or “happy” or “smiley”. Know IDEA and caselaw (Endrew F., etc.).


Shaming students, “clipping down” and taking away recess as behavior modification/compliance training does not work and it will cause trauma! Also, especially if you are working in an inclusion setting, pay close attention to how you treat your students with disabilities because their peers are watching and they will follow your example…Please don’t help produce any more ableist bullies!


Parents are trusting you with their most precious gift everyday. Take care of their children while they are in your care. Children will not remember what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.


Don’t Assume Laziness! If a child is struggling with reading or other subject check for a learning disability. Don’t talk down to parents that just want the best for their child


Be honest with parents, they can handle bad news far better than no news. Understand that not telling them something means you will lose their trust forever. You don’t have to be perfect, parents don’t expect that.


Worst thing to do to an adhd kid is take away recess time it’s the on time they can move an talk freely without getting in trouble. Gotta think outside the box with them. What do they need to keep them from getting into trouble in the first place.


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