The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that a regular education teacher be present at all IEP meetings if the student will or may participate in any regular education. The parent has the option of excusing a regular education teacher from attendance at an IEP meeting. An excusal must be in writing and agreed to prior to the scheduled meeting time.
Promote communication between regular education teachers & parents - a key factor in success for all students.
Students do best when their parents are involved in their schooling. Parents are more comfortable and capable of being involved if they know their child's teacher. Having regular education teachers at IEP meetings guarantees that they will meet the parents and creates greater opportunity for dialogue and collaboration to further the child's education.
Give confidence to parents regarding their child's inclusion in regular education.
For many parents, and the law, a primary concern is that each child have the opportunity to socialize and participate with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent possible. When the regular education teacher attends the IEP meeting, it reassures the parent that the regular education teacher is involved with their child. It also allows the regular education teacher to demonstrate and discuss the legitimate inclusion effort being made.
Encourage cooperation & collaboration between special education & regular education teachers.
Bringing the special and regular education teachers together at the IEP meeting encourages both teachers to collaborate and avoid taking contradictory positions in front of parents. Preparation for an IEP meeting requires initial discussion between the two teachers, which makes future collaboration easier and more likely.
Link IEP goals to day-to-day instruction.
For students who spend time in a regular education setting, the regular education teacher is responsible for delivering at least some of the student's day-to-day instruction. The best way to make sure that IEP goals are linked to that day-to-day instruction is to have the regular education teacher attend the IEP meetings and give input.
Directions solely from specialists may seem unrealistic.
There can be a perception among regular education teachers that special education teachers, speech language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists, school psychologists and other specialists have no connection to the realities of a regular education classroom. Including a regular education teacher while formulating a student's IEP allows for input and brainstorming about meeting the student's needs in the real world setting of the regular education classroom.
Increase regular education teachers' respect & understanding of IEPs.
Most regular education teachers have minimal training regarding IEPs and many view them as belonging to the special education department. Including regular education teachers in IEP meetings helps demystify the process and demonstrate the value of a well-written IEP to help a teacher support a student's learning. Regular education teachers are also more likely to "buy into" the IEP if they have the opportunity to help craft it.
Share information about peer interactions.
One of the most important parts of a student's education is social interaction with peers. Special education teachers generally see a small range of student interaction, one-on-one adult interaction or small group interaction with peers with disabilities. Regular education teachers are well positioned to observe a student's interactions with nondisabled peers across a variety of school settings. Information about how a student interacts with nondisabled peers is invaluable in crafting social skills goals and determining how well efforts at teaching social skills are working.
Help the IEP make sense in a regular education classroom.
The special education classroom and the regular education classroom are two very different environments. What works well in a room with a high adult to student ratio, does not always work in a classroom where the adult to student ratio is 1:30. Having a regular education teacher at the IEP meeting allows for input and creative planning to realistically meet the student's needs in the regular education environment.
Spotlight the IEP's focus on regular education.
The law has a preference for students to receive the maximum amount of instruction in the regular education setting. Having a meeting without a regular education teacher makes it much easier to forget this preference and plan a whole day of instruction that does not include regular education. When a regular education teacher is present, it helps draw attention to the preference for instruction in the regular education environment by adding that perspective to the conversation.
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