Our Role as an IEP Team Member: 3 Things High School Counselors Want Teachers and Families to Know

When it comes to putting together an effective IEP team, many hands make light work. Teachers, parents, and counselors all have indispensable roles to play as IEP team members. As with any team destined for greatness, we need clear goals, expectations, and communication. When synergy happens between these three important parties, our IEP students thrive. So, parents and teachers, grab a cup of coffee and a cozy seat and let’s have a chat about the IEP team.


1- Parents, Teachers, Counselors: We’re all on the same team here

While we all may have different roles to play on the IEP team, let’s be reminded that we are all working towards one common goal: Student success. As a counselor, we are here to answer questions. We want to be as accessible as possible for parents and teachers as we provide resources, direction, and support for students with IEPs (more info in this podcast episode on how counselors support the IEP team).

We all have to fight against the temptation to silo off into our own bubbles of responsibility and remember that teachers, parents, and counselors are meant to be partners. When there is open communication and collaboration between this triad of IEP team members, we can truly form a dream team. Counselors, if you’re hitting roadblocks with gaining teacher buy-in to your counseling program, be sure to check out this podcast episode on how to overcome these hurdles.

Teachers and parents, if you feel there is a divide or gap in communication with your counselor, always seek to understand what’s causing the disconnect. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of communicating clearly, setting expectations, and working towards common goals that truly support our students. Our students’ success depends on it.

Trust me when I say, I’m counting on us working together! I have an entire section of my website dedicated to parent resources — digital courses and workshops for parents, students, and families.

2- Our caseloads may be fuller than that of other IEP team members

There is often a general misunderstanding of just how hats counselors wear and the sheer magnitude of our responsibilities. Unfortunately, this is the plight of many high school counselors. Parents and teachers, we are here to say, we do in fact wear a lot of hats. So, please, give us some grace.

We usually know our students with IEPs and 504s well because we work so closely with a team to serve them. Parents, we want to get to know you as a valuable IEP team member, too! However, please know that we are often running around like crazy, juggling a very full caseload. Just like a teacher can’t always answer the phone in their classroom, counselors have a variety of duties. We are not always sitting at our desks.

But, hear us say, we want to schedule time with you. We want to know your hopes and goals and ambitions for your student. (And counselors, if you feel your calendar closing in on you, be sure to check out this blog post with tips on using your calendar as a powerful advocacy tool.)

3- We are the IEP team member with an abundance of resources

Whether you’re looking for academic resources, social emotional tools and tactics, or college and career information, we are your go-to resource bank. High school counselors have tons of information, but often we are still looking for ways to get it into the right hands. So parents and teachers, my advice to you – just ask!

Curious about our areas of expertise? We are masters at conducting small groups inside the school to work on certain skills. Field trips, job shadowing, career activities, and college fairs outside the school… we got you covered!

And for my counselor friends, if you’re needing support on the topics listed above, I’m linking out to some helpful resources:

Be sure to also grab my scholarship freebie, a spreadsheet to keep you and your high school students organized and motivated while pursuing financial aid for college. And if you aren’t a Clique Collab member yet, be sure to snag a spot on my waitlist to gain access to exclusive resources and join our thriving community of counselors.


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