Closing the Gap: Ways to Increase Collaboration in the IEP Team

Education today can sometimes be difficult to navigate. You see, the phrase “when I was in school” is said… A LOT… and there IS a difference between today’s education and the education of those who start parent-teacher conferences with “well when I was in school…” Today there are national laws, district procedures, and school procedures that must be followed that may differ from the education of (long) ago. That is why collaboration and communication are key – especially in special education. 


But, why ESPECIALLY in special education? Well, special education uses a TON of acronyms, laws, and educational terms that general education teachers don’t necessarily HAVE to use every day. Think about it, special education teachers are working day in and day out with the terms and acronyms that are related to IEP meetings and different education-related laws. But, for those team members with limited experience using them, it can be overwhelming. 

It is imperative to have good collaboration and communication partnerships between general education teachers and special education teachers, as well as between the teachers and the families.


There are a couple of common barriers when trying to form a truly unified IEP team. Often, the disconnect occurs when one of two things happens: there is a lack of communication or there is a misunderstanding between team members. Either of these could occur between the educators and the family, or it could even occur between the general and special education teachers themselves. General education teachers and special education teachers must work together to support students in all school environments. This means being able to communicate effectively. If a special education teacher is rattling off acronyms and different laws, it could leave a general education teacher feeling overwhelmed and lost. The same goes for students' families. During IEP meetings, there tends to be a lot of educational jargon said, and even if a particular student’s family has been involved in the IEP process for a while now, that doesn’t always mean that they know exactly what each acronym and law means and stands for.

So, what are some solutions to these types of issues? Well, first it is important to make sure that everyone knows how the meeting will be run, what the specific terms and acronyms being used mean, and taking the time to assure the whole team that everyone present is there for the good of the student. These are all important aspects of a truly unified IEP team. 


An easy way to make sure that these types of issues do not occur is to take the time at the beginning of the meeting to review and simplify the technical jargon associated with special education. It really can go a long way in ensuring every member of the IEP team feels that they understand and are understood! So how can we make sure that the team members are set up for success? Simply give team members the opportunity to read through my eBook entitled Special Education Terms Made Simple.


I created this eBook to not only cover the definitions of the terms and acronyms, but also to provide a sense of what each item means as it relates to the teacher and the family. What role do they each play? How can they best support the team and the student? Why were they included in the team in the first place? Each of these questions can be answered through the sharing of this eBook. Quite simply, I want IEP teams to feel supported, understood, and like they have a voice.

Want a sneak peek of everything included? I've got a one page "Cheat Sheet" you can download for FREE by clicking here.

Increasing communication and understanding will increase the collaboration among the IEP team, ensuring that the student receives the best possible outcome. Let me know in the comments: how do you improve the relationships between IEP team members? I'd love to chat! Thanks for reading, and I look forward to hearing from you!

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