One of my biggest job “hacks” for saving time is cutting down on time spent doing paperwork. When I learned to cut the time I spent writing IEPs and progress notes in half, my job satisfaction increased significantly… probably because I wasn’t working at home as much!
When writing IEPs, sometimes I’d write something and read it over and feel incredibly impressed with myself. Other days, I’d stare at an IEP for hours, writing only 5 poorly worded sentences. As the school year went on and I got bogged down, tired, and stressed, the problem only got worse.
One day, I decided to print off a ton of my old IEPs and write down favorite ways that I had worded things. I even jotted down a few favorite goals. Starting that document was the best idea I’ve ever had.
A few school years ago, I went to a paperwork conference all about writing compliant IEPs. While there, I started taking notes. I ended up turning these notes into what I call my “IEP Cheat Sheet”. I truly believe this document saves me HOURS for every IEP I write. And as an added bonus, my IEPs are consistently well written! Yay!
Here’s how I made my cheat sheet:
First, I went through an IEP and wrote down the headers of every section that I needed to write information in. Then, under each header, I wrote general information as to what was supposed to be included in that section including notes from our state department and my special education coordinator. I added tons of tables so that I could add specific information for various broad categories such as “articulation” or “social skills”.
Now, everytime I write an IEP, I use my IEP cheat sheet as a starting place. I open up the Word document and scroll through it as I write each section of the IEP. I also add information as situations come up (e.g., justification for pulling a student out, explanations for dismissing).
I share my personal IEP cheat sheet in the freebie library on my website, but first I want to encourage you to make your own. Look at mine as inspiration but know that every state, district, and school is different. The sections and requirements for my IEPs are likely vastly different than yours. Feel free to take any wording from mine that you like, but know that this is a process.
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