Writing IEPs More Intentionally & Collaboratively as a Team

Make sure to check out Stephanie’s part 1 – right HERE!

As a special education teacher, IEPs guide the work you do with the students on your caseload. And no matter if your caseload has 4 students, 40 students, or 140 students… you are required to write and implement an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each student.

Often times, as special educators, we feel like we are on an island of one. You might be the only Resource teacher in your grade level, the only K-3 Autism unit in your building, or the only traveling, itinerant special education teacher in your district. And it can be very isolating and lonely, but writing IEPs shouldn’t be one of them.

That’s right. You don’t have to be writing IEPs alone, and you shouldn’t be. Your student’s IEP Team is made up of many people, all of whom hold valuable data, expertise, and experiences that will help shape and mold what the child’s IEP will be.

Writing IEPs More Intentionally & Collaboratively as a Team

Learning how to bring in all stakeholders, from parents and families to general education teachers and specialists, makes your job easier and creates a better, more effective IEP for your students.

If you’re not sure how to create this dreamy (yes, it can be your reality!), collaborative approach, I broke down all the hard work for you and laid it out, step-by-step in my book The Intentional IEP: A Team Approach to Better Outcomes for Students and Their Families

But to get you started on a more collaborative approach to writing IEPs as a team, here are the first 3 steps you need to take:

Include the family in your data collection & writing IEPs process

This can look many different ways, and it’s up to the IEP team to determine what that looks like. It might mean the family filling out an IEP input form prior to the upcoming IEP meeting, quarterly or monthly meetings with the team to discuss progress at school and at home, sending home work or community resource suggestions for things the family can work on with the child, or having the family track data on a specific skill.

Again, this all comes down to the dynamics of the IEP team and the best interest of the student. Include families in the process of writing IEPs.

Analyze the data together to make decisions

Analyzing the data is one of the most important parts of the writing IEP process. Why? Because IEPs are data driven. That means for any decision you make at the IEP table, the decision should be backed up with data to show why a student needs that goal, that service, those minutes, that support.

When you analyze the data as a team, it puts everyone on the same page. With all of the different perspectives, expertises, and roles of an IEP team – everyone will bring something a little different with them to the table. Paired with analyzing the data together, the team will really be able to think outside of the box when it comes to what should be and needs to be written into a child’s IEP.

Writing IEPs & goals; work on them together

You, as the special education teacher, can propose IEP goals before the IEP meeting in a draft IEP and during the IEP meeting, as can any other member of the IEP team. When skills for goals are being chosen, you will prioritize skills based on student need and what skills the team determines the student needs to learn first (priorities!).

From there, it’s important to determine who will be managing student progress on the goal, how progress will be measured on the goal, and how data will be shared on the goal progress. When goals are co-managed, meaning there are multiple people working on one IEP goal, it creates a team effort in the student’s mastery of that skill.

  • Often times you see this co-management of IEP goals done with a special education teacher and a specialist, like the SLP or OT. But any goal can be co-managed with other members of the child’s IEP team.


If you feel like you never learned this in school, it’s because you probably didn’t! And if you’re tired of feeling overwhelmed and stressed out about writing IEPs, there IS a better way.

At the end of the day, we all want to help our students grow and achieve more. When you put the power of a team to work, the writing IEPs process becomes faster and more efficient. This book is the blueprint for working together to give students what they truly need to succeed. Check out The Intentional IEP book!

Read more about IEPs:

Taking IEP Minutes

Transition Planning

80% IEP Goal Mastery

7 IEP Tips

More Collaboration Tips

IEP Data Tips

IEP Goals Tracked in Centers

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