I have recently had the pleasure of sitting in on two separate end of cycle meetings, each for students in special education who are receiving academic, behavioral, and clinical supports in service of their Individualized Education Program (IEP). As a program, we have been working over the years to refine these meetings. This year, program leadership made intentional efforts to ensure that end of cycle meetings reflect our efforts to work as a transdisciplinary team, asking that clinicians, academic interventions specialists, and student support assistants meet with general education teachers, administrators, and when possible, parents and students, to co-present on student progress.
I believe that the parents in attendance at these two end of cycle meetings had quite a different experience. The clinician, student support assistant (SSA), and special education teacher were each able to clearly articulate how their goals were tied to the student’s IEP and how the interventions they used addressed the student’s unhelpful internal working model(s). It was clear that the general education teacher worked in close relationship with the all three providers and that strategies that these experts were developing in their work with the student were translated into the classroom environment. When one SSA shared that the student had met one of their behavioral goals, everyone expressed their excitement and their belief that the student was ready to take on a new challenge. When one parent shared her dreams for her student, each provider was able to make the connection between the specific goals they were working on with the student and how it would contribute to their success. It felt holistic, it felt coordinated, and it felt like true teamwork in service of one student.
I understand that creating truly integrated systems of care is a complicated, messy, and challenging endeavor. But I walked away from these meetings with a renewed sense of why it is one of the most important pieces of work. I just want to take a moment to say thank you to each of you for the part you play in bringing this level of coordination and integration to your work. I can confidently say that it has quite an impact on the experience of our students and families.