Friday, August 4, 2017

Good Grief....so much paperwork!

Happy Friday! 

I have to admit, I'm jealous of some of you that are still in 100% summer mode. I hope you continue to enjoy your time off until the very last second possible! 

Unforetnuley, the rest of us are gearing up for back to school season. Prepping our rooms, sweating our caseloads and fighting tooth and nail to get support and resources to make the school year a smidge easier. 

I'm here today to share a new idea I had when sorting through my new caseload this year. I know how overwhelming it can be to be handed a caseload and expect to know the kid before even meeting them. 

***Honest truth right here: When I first began teaching, I was given 14 IEPs (each with a minimum of 35 pages) for my self-contained classroom. I knew the importance of the documents but I was trying to balance remembering passwords for 8 different district programs, policies, and procedures of my new school and district.  I was also trying to survive without any money! I hadn't worked in 8 months due to student teaching and I wouldn't get my first paycheck until a month AFTER school started. etc. etc. You get the picture. Do you think those IEPs were read? 

Sadly no. I skimmed them...if that counts, but couldn't really tell you about each kid.  I was LOST! There was so much info in that pile of paper I didn't know where to start or what was the most important thing to focus on.

Have you felt the same? Or Feeling this way right now? 

If so, hopefully, this workflow sheet will help! Here's what I do: 

  1. Get a paper copy of the IEP or access a copy on your district's IEP application. You will also need to print a copy of my FREE IEP Workflow sheet -one per student. Follow along with the pages until it's filled out. You will have a much more clear picture of the student and understand how to prepare your instruction and classroom setting from the following information: 
  2. Page 1: Student Name is easy if there is a nickname they regularly call the child be sure to note that. If it's not in the IEP, hopefully, the parents will tell you on the BTS survey or you can ask during your initial phone call. It's also a good idea to track communication with parents in case there's an incident later in the year. 
  3. Include DOB. Don't be like me and forget a kids birthday. :( Gosh, it sounds like I'm a horrible teacher....
  4. Include sex of the child.  I skipped over that this summer during ESY. I was shocked when I had a girl show up in my class! **NO JOKE...another embarrassing moment**
  5. School ID is important for attendance, transportation, and meals. 
  6. You need to know Annual and FIE dates to gather data appropriately
  7. Qualifying disabilities.  Most disabilities are going to be fairly common especially primary and secondary qualifications, but if you get to tertiary and quaternary disabilities you may not know what they are. (yes, some of my self-contained learners have 4 disabilities) If you happen to know the rare disability-your support staff may not.  Do some research how disabilities affect learning and behaviors. 
  8. I include the instructional code(IA).  Sometimes coming up from elementary they have my kids in more gen ed time, but at the intermediate school, the rigor jumps so much-my kids benefit more from a special ed resource instead of inclusion. Therefore the IA setting changes. 
  9. Does the student receive transportation services? If so, find out that bus number for AM drop off and PM pickup. Make sure they are where they need to be. If they don't receive transportation services, collaborate with parents for drop-off and pickup. 
  10. Medicaid billing. Due to my students receiving personal care services, we bill for Medicaid funding.  I don't want to skip over a student that can receive Medicaid funding...although our coordinator would track me down if I wasn't billing. 
At this point, I have just verified my student is supposed to be in my self-contained setting based on the above information.  

  1. Now I want to get to know the kiddo by reviewing his FIE, PLAAFPs, Accoms & Mods.  I jot most important info and jot down notes and questions if I need clarification from family or previous staff. 
  2. Page 2: I list all related services the student receives so I know who will be coming in to service the student. 
  3. I NEED to know communication methods.  I can't have the student arriving at school and I'm guessing if they will need signs, visuals, a device or can just adapt to verbal communicating. 
  4. Allergies, medical needs, etc. Include everything you can in here. Check with the nurse and double check with the parents. Asthma, birthmarks, medicine at school, tactile sensitivities, needs food chopped up, can only drink with a straw, gluten free, only eats food from home, lactose intolerant-no milk. I also include hygiene info here. The student is independent in the bathroom, the student is in pull-ups with 15 min timer, the student won't request bathroom, student hates flush of the toilet, the student will overflow sink when not monitored, etc. 
  5. Behavior and BIP. Include as much as you can in here too. Describe what a 'good moment' and a 'meltdown' might look like. List triggers, and supports to help students during a crisis situation. Talk to parents and previous staff. 
  6. Likes and Dislikes. This is another NECESSITY. You can't start the school year without know what the student likes and dislikes.  Talk to previous staff, dig deep into the paperwork, ask the parents before school starts.  If you aren't able to complete any of that-use a reinforcement assessment on the first day and find out what the student will work for.  They usually won't work unless they get paid. I definitely wouldn't work if I didn't get paid (despite how much I love my job.)
Page 3 is a goal grouping sheet. Some of my kids have similar goals.  I group them together so I can plan my lessons more effectively and know which standards or skills I should focus more heavily on. 


After the 1st week of school with the kids, I go back to re-read and make notes on the paperwork trying to answer questions I had from the paperwork. You know....something wasn't described well or info you think is important should be mentioned in the next ARD. I just make a note in case the student moves-the next case manager already has it on hand.

After completing each workflow, I place it in the student's binder that houses all of their work samples and progress reports. 

Whew. That's a lot! I hope that can give you a nice flow of what to look for in IEPs for new kiddos.  Let me know how the workflow sheets work for you during BTS! If you need anything else added or want an editable version, feel free to ask away! 

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