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Professional Development Opinion

How to Create Teacher IEPs: Individual EXPLORATION Plans

By Jennie Magiera — July 15, 2014 2 min read
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Recently I have been speaking and writing about how we need to take back our PD. One of the ideas I mention is Teacher IEPs, aka Individual EXPLORATION Plans. This has been getting quite a few follow up questions so I’ve written this quick post about the concept, and how to make it your own!

The idea of the Teacher IEP came out of my inability to effectively coach and support teachers (around EdTech) from over 25 schools by myself. I realized that cookie-cutter PD and coaching wasn’t, well... cutting it. Teachers were anywhere from novices to rockstars when it came to leveraging technology. While some needed help understanding the basics of an iPad, others needed to be challenged and pushed. As I had just left the classroom, I thought back to what I did when I had students at such varied levels. At that time I had started creating IEPs (Individual Education Plans) for all my students, even those who weren’t deemed as a “diverse learner”. So I thought - if all kids deserve an IEP, shouldn’t all adult learners as well?

I started small... just a handful of teachers here and there. I sat down and wrote out goals with the teacher and set dates. At first it wasn’t super successful. I created the this plan with the teacher but didn’t have time to follow up. As would be the case with our students, without support and follow through, the teachers didn’t always meet their goals.

So then I went back to the drawing board and created this IEP template. I thought about what was missing before and added more structure for both the teacher and myself.

Using this template, the teacher and I sat together to discuss the problems of practice he or she currently faces... this often came out of a Gripe Jam session. We then used these current challenges to craft goals. As is the practice with all good goal-setting, we made sure they were measurable, meaningful and manageable.

We then looked at the SAMR level - a continuum I find especially helpful when exploring EdTech implementation. We determined frequency for this goal (would it be something the teacher would do throughout the day? daily? weekly?), what the measures of success would be and the tools and steps needed to accomplish this goal.

Most importantly, I added in specific areas for us to define the support needed to be successful as well as an area for reflection post-goal. This was where we set dates for that support, follow-up and reflection. Another feature I added was having critical friends. An ongoing challenge I have is being everywhere at once. I can’t physically - or even virtually - meet with all of the teachers I work with. So I’ve begun to set up pairs and triads of critical friends. These are two or three teachers who share similar goals or challenges and can work together as sounding boards, encouragement and reflection partners throughout their IEPs.

Starting where the teachers are - with their goals and challenges - then creating scaffolded plans with clearly outlined support and reflection may seem like an obvious idea. However, it took time and iteration to get where it is and hopefully my journey can help you as you guide your teams in growing and learning together. I’m happy to share this IEP template with you to use and modify as you need (just please attribute if you re-share). Also, I’d love to hear how it goes or any ideas for modifying this process! Please share in the comments below!

The opinions expressed in Teaching Toward Tomorrow are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.