Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Creating Student Agency, Ownership and Empowerment...and the IEP

About four years ago, I began using a Learner Profile that was inspired by Barbara Bray and Kathleen McClaskey's book, "How to Personalize Learning."  In a nutshell, it was a grid that explained strengths, weaknesses, needs and preferences as it related to Universal Design for Learning. Students would go through an interview process with me, we'd fill it out together and then the student explained it at their IEP meeting. If I was lucky, the student would also use it to advocate for themselves in the regular education. After a few iterations of the process, my students began to think more about their learning, develop agency and taking greater ownership in classrooms that were designed around personalized learning principles.

So, here we are several years later. 100% of my caseload now have Learner Profile documents that are presented during IEP meetings to the team. This has been a complete game changer for student and parent engagement during the IEP meeting. The meeting itself has turned into a conversation around the student's strengths, weaknesses and what the student thinks works in terms of support. Now, the IEP meeting has turned into a positive and meaningful conversation that hits many parts of the IEP (strengths, weaknesses, supplementary aides and services). We will spend time talking goals and data but that is not at the center of conversation. At the high school level, we still need to try and close achievement gaps but we also need to teach students to identify what assistive technology, apps, extensions, whatever they need to be successful to overcome the identified weaknesses in the classroom. This is what IEP meetings should be all about and the Learner Profile addresses this.

This week I presented the following presentation at SLATE on engaging IEP meetings and shared out a number of resources to help teachers move in a direction of student led IEP meetings.

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