What Would Your IEP Say?

what-would-your-iep-saySo I show up for work this morning and immediately have to deal with a challenging student. This kid is the typical, “emotionally disturbed” kid who is strategically placed so that if he throws himself onto the floor in an emotional fit, he’ll land on the little patch of carpet you’ve securely taped down. What’s that you say? You don’t have a kid like that in your class? Well I do – at least one every year.

And I LOVE “that kid” – even when he throws himself and/or his notebook around and drives me bonkers with random clicking or fart noises. I love the snot out of that kiddo and the other 12 students with learning disabilities that have been mainstreamed into my co-taught, 11th-grade English class.

Thankfully, my Special Education co-teacher and I can access their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) to find out how to best meet their needs. I, sincerely, wish that *every* student had an IEP so that I could more immediately diagnose their needs and contribute to a running document about their progress. How cool would it be if I could click on a document to study all of my students during the first week of school!? What an informed teaching practice I would have. . .

Oh! Even cooler would be for administrators and coaches to be able to click on a running document to study all of MY needs as an educator! If every student should have an IEP, then shouldn’t every teacher have one too? I mean what if during . . . say . . . the next required staff meeting about the new teacher evaluation tool. . . I suddenly flopped onto the floor in an “emotionally disturbed” fit and screamed, “I just don’t see the point in this stupid assignment!?”

Would my support staff know how to properly support me? Maybe modify and adjust their presentation so that it is more relevant and allows for a least-restrictive environment?

Teachers, like their students, need modifications. They need to feel loved. They need learning environments in which they feel safe to fail and can find some autonomy along the way. I worry that the trendy and narrow focus on teacher evaluation doesn’t foster the 21st Century types of critical thinking environments that teachers are expected to foster for students in their classrooms.

If *I* had an IEP, here’s what it would say:

Summary of Performance: Alaina is able to work successfully with her colleagues and can work independently as needed. She actively uses prior knowledge to access new information but often needs to use technological methods to conduct her lessons. Overall, she benefits from both oral and written directions and may need extended time to reach maxium levels of student engagement and achievement.

Social Skills and Behavior: Alaina is very sociable and has a good sense of humor. She responds appropriately to staff. Some administrators, however, have reported that she occasionally seems off-task with perceived “teacher leader” duties, but her behavior does not significantly or adversely impact general top-down-management structures.

Accommodations: Use preferential seating during staff meetings, exclude from current teacher-evaluation legislation measures, do not penalize for hindrances of student-poverty or social injustice, and indulge her plans for total world domination.

If you had an IEP, what might it say?



Alaina Adams

Dr. Alaina Adams

Phoenix, Arizona

My name is Alaina Adams and I am a Board Certified educator who has taught a variety of English Language Arts classes in middle school, high school, and higher education contexts for the past 12 years. I am currently working as a leader in full-time training in the Phoenix Union High School District and love the new perspective it brings for teacher leadership development in my urban, secondary setting. In addition to working in an administrative capacity, I also coach teachers on my campus, district, and across Arizona as they engage with the National Board Certification process.
When not working towards total world domination, I am the mother of a teenage daughter, enjoyer of live music, and am an all-around text-messaging, Twitter-following, and Facebook-posting human being.

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