When I was going to school for my master’s degree, I took one class in which we spent a lot of time conducting mock individual education program (IEP) meetings. What I remember most was how much anxiety they caused me. Thoughts would race through my head: How am I supposed to be in this meeting when I know nothing about the student? Won’t I know a lot more about the student when I am a teacher? Why are is everyone acting so crazy? They don’t act like that in real meetings, do they?
Fast-forward to my very first IEP meeting as a special education teacher. It was two years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. I was very new and thought that all IEP meetings were like the ones practiced in my classes or imagined in my head. Boy, was I wrong!
This was an initial evaluation for the student, and his mother was hesitant about the whole idea of special education. When it was time for introductions around the table, I said, “Hi, I’m Theresa, the special education teacher.” The parent became so irate at the idea of her child needing special education that she rose out of her chair and stood over me in such a way that I almost felt threatened.