Student-Led IEP Meetings: Getting the Kids Involved

It seems like Student-Led IEP is a buzz word going around special education right now. I’m not sure who decided this was a new thing, but to me it has been part of my students’ transition goals since I was a student-teacher, writing IEPs for mentor teacher. It seemed to me the obvious first transition goal, since most students don’t yet know what they want to be career-wise and will likely change it multiple times. Why not instead have a goal that is more applicable to the students’ current needs, like say… understanding and participating in the meeting they are now required to attend?

My students actually really love their annual review. Last year, I even had one 8th grade student write her entire IEP with no more assistance than my supervision to make sure she included everything and placed it under the correct section. While my students tend not to lead the actual meeting, they do write at least a section of the IEP with or without my help. I also require them to do the introductions at the beginning of the meetingĀ and read the transition section of the IEP.

I have had many administrators ask me how I prepare my students to do this. The secret is that every student keeps a copy of their IEP with them and we refer to it constantly to discuss what helps them and what they have a right to ask for in regular education classes. I also made up a packet that takes the students through the IEP sections step by step. You can see it here.

My students really like that they get a say in their accommodations and even their goals. They are much more motivated to achieve goals they wrote themselves, and they are more comfortable advocating for accommodations when they understand the why and the how of them (and that it is a legal requirement to fulfill them!).

Encouraging Use of Assistive Hearing Devices

Encouraging Hearing Aid UseDo your students complain about wearing their CI processors or personal FMs? I have several students who refuse to wear their listening devices to the extent that they have begun “losing” or vandalizing these expensive devices, so that they won’t have to wear them. How do you encourage students to be proactive about their hearing access and wear the devices that we know helps them?

Does your school handle this as a personal choice? I know the residential schools I’ve worked at did so. The student could decide. However, all the mainstream schools I’ve worked at make it an IEP team decision at which the parent and/or teacher can overrule the students choice. We then end up providing very expensive equipment the students don’t want. I spend many mornings arguing, consoling, demanding, and explaining in an attempt to get those students to use the equipment.

I feel like I’ve tried everything. We’ve done behavior charts with rewards for using the equipment. We’ve had class discussions with hearing peers to explain what the equipment is; we’ve read books and comics with Deaf characters who use hearing devices to encourage pride. I’ve taught self-advocacy classes, and I’ve taught science classes on sound, hearing and hearing aids, CIs, and personal FMs. W’eve brought in parents and had family discussions. I’ve given consequences and filed police reports on the damaged equipment. I am out of ideas on my own.

I’m looking for solutions. How do you handle this? Do you have any tips or suggestions to try? I would appreciate any and all ideas to help me reach these kids who are falling behind.