Guest Post · Tips & Tricks

Starting the IEP with Bloomz

Lower elementary is the place many teachers first identify students with special needs. This can be a sensitive subject for families and a challenging responsibility for teachers. Documenting behaviors while teaching is tough but extremely important. Along with this, teachers must share that documentation with administration and keep them informed of every communication with the parents. There are official procedures and proper channels to go through when making these types of recommendations. It can take a long time for teachers to receive the Individualized Educational Plan. There is a gap of time while the IEP (Individualized Educational Plan) is being developed when the teacher must improvise and teach the student as well as the class. Developing and maintaining positive communication with the student’s family is the first step towards learning what strategies work to teach the student.

Image from U.S. Department of Education 

This year, I find myself in this exact position. While I wait for the student to be observed by an expert I am developing a relationship with the student’s family through Bloomz. I send messages relaying difficulties and ask questions such as, “What strategies do you use at home to help your child through anger?”  The family has been responsive and we are working together to develop methods to assist the child. I am essentially developing an IEP with the family while we wait for the assistance of an expert to observe and interpret the student’s behavior.

My student is responding positively to the individualized reward system I created with his parents through Bloomz messenger. On the first day of implementation, he handed me this smiley face and thanked me for acknowledging his behavior. He said I put a smile on his face. What really got me was that I could tell how important it was to my student that I tell his family what he needs and that they understand, agree, and give it to him. This smiley face represents a successful communication between his family and myself.

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Bloomz also has a behavior award system in the app. At the end of the day I ask my class to award themselves and/or a peer for positive behaviors. Today the student I am developing the IEP for sat quietly and raised his hand to award himself for three separate positive behaviors. He gave himself an award for respecting the personal space of others, caring when he gave me a hug, and following directions. A few of his classmates also awarded him for positive behaviors.
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I am taking the first steps towards developing an official Individualized Educational Program for my student through the Bloomz direct messaging system and behavior management tool. While we wait for other members of the team, parents can see the positive behavior updates on their child’s timeline. This is important because it creates a balance in sharing behavior challenges through messaging while recognizing successful ones with the behavior management tool.
Do you use the behavior management tool with special needs students in your class? If so please share your experience in the comments below.
Photo by Redd Angelo

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