Monday, November 29, 2010

Writing IEPs

In lab, we talked about writing IEPs. In terms of becoming a Special Education teacher, writing IEPs is what I'm most nervous about and what I have the most questions about. Each lab group was assigned a story and asked to convene as an "IEP team."

Our lab group chose a story called Out, written by our professor Ira. It is about a student named Pete, who is considered to be an emotionally impaired student. Here is the story:

by Ira Socol

It's 8:17. See, I can tell time. Nobody thinks I can do anything. But that's not true. It's 8:17 and I know school's only been in for seven minutes but I also know I need to be out of here in less than forty-five minutes. Yes, time and arithmetic. Because I need to be on my way by 9:00 so I can meet Derek by 9:30 so we can catch the bus to the subway and be on the way downtown by only a little after 10:00. That's the plan and I've got less than forty-five minutes.

Sam's coming past me and here's chance number one. I stick my foot between his and trip him, he falls in a wild, uncoordinated sprawl, knocking over Tina's desk, books flying. I'm not ready to be obvious yet, so I just smile.

The smile sets Mrs. Girardi off, not that this takes much. But the key here is I can't just get sent to the Resource Room. If I get sent there I'll need to start all over and besides, you know, the standards are different there. I'll need to work much harder. So when Mrs. Girardi says, "What is the matter with you? Are you so stupid you think that's funny?" I prove my growing vocabulary skills with the response, "I'm so stupid I think it's hilarious." Which of course gets this entire class of fifth graders, except Sam who's still on the floor, and Tina, who's glaring at me, into a fit of hysterical laughter.

This teacher is beyond predictable so I can stay ahead easily. She starts to scream. I start to scream back. She tells me to come up front. I tell her to come back to me. When she actually starts to come toward me (can you believe she'd fall for that), I get up and start running around the room. The fact that the class is still laughing is making her crazy. She sure doesn't like laughter. So she actually chases me for half a lap before figuring something out.

They all say I "make bad decisions." Everybody says that. But they're wrong about that too. I make decisions they don't like, but they're not bad. Sometimes they're really carefully made decisions designed to get me exactly what I need. Right now I need to get out of this school so I can run with Derek who got suspended yesterday for the rest of the week. He did it by punching out Kenny DeMuro. I'd rather not do that. Kenny looks like he's still hurting.

Now I need to make sure. I need to give the principal no choice once he gets the phone call. I need less lecture time from him and more of that "oh my God" look because that'll only take ten minutes. He'll call home. Nobody'll be there. He'll say "go straight home" in that very intense voice, as if he thinks I think he doesn't know. Really, he knows I know he knows, but he's got to sound like he's doing his job. And if he's going to do his job, I've got to do mine. I pick a book off Carrie's desk and toss it, not hard but accurately, at Mrs. Girardi, who immediately screams, in her best psycho mode, "You're out of here you little moron, you'll be gone for at least a week." And I take off right out the door, right under the clock: 8:23.

We then used a sample IEP from to create an IEP for Pete: Pete's IEP

Although we didn't know the student and had to make a few assumptions concerning what would be best for him and work best for him in his academic environment, using a story to practice writing IEPs was definitely beneficial and good practice for what we will be doing quite often as Special Education teachers.


  1. I couldn't agree with you more. I am terrified to write IEPs once I'm an official teacher. I am always afraid that I'm going to do something wrong or not include something that the student really needed to be included in the IEP.

    I did enjoy writing the IEPs in class/lab. It showed me that even with all the people we had in our group it still takes time and thought and others opinions to make a good IEP that will allow the child to succeed to the highest achievement they can. I know that once I'm a teacher and write IEP on a regular basis that it probably won't be as terrifying but just thinking about it now I'm still scared.

  2. I am also terrified to write IEP's once I am a teacher, however this activity was really helpful. I found it interesting that we just came up with the accommodations on our own.. For some reason, I thought we would have to look at a long list of accommodations and find what we think would work. I guess that is a good thing and a bad thing. The good is that your not limited. The bad, an inexperienced teacher might not know very many accommodations or the best accommodations to suit each disability.

  3. I also thought that this was a really good activity. I have looked at IEPs before but have never had to write one. I felt that this activity gave us a good sense of what writing an IEP takes. I liked working on it as a group because everyone had different ideas, which in terms of IEPs is a good thing. I know when we worked on this activity I would have liked more information about the student. I think not having more information made the activity a little bit more realistic because as a teacher you may not always have access to a lot of information about a student.