The IEP team may often include people you have never met, included school system specialists who evaluate or give expert opinions about your child. Introductions should always be made at the start of a meeting, but it’s hard to absorb those names and connect them to job titles, especially when so much is happening. It can feel embarrassing to ask people’s names again!
Why Remember Names?
There are three good reasons to know who’s who. First, it is simply more courteous to address people by name. Second, you need to connect what people say with their roles on the team so you can understand the information or advice they present. Third, you may need to contact someone or refer to what a person said in the meeting. These easy techniques help you remember names during the meeting, and also record those names for later.
IEP Seating Chart
At Get There Project, our favorite method for remembering names is the “IEP Seating Chart.” Draw the shape of the table on a piece of notebook paper. Outside the “table” make a circle for each person at the meeting. Pass the paper around the table, asking each person to print his or her name and job title near the circle that corresponds to their position. Ask everyone to print clearly and write in the same direction so the sheet is easy to read. Put this paper in front of you so you can refer to it when speaking. If possible, ask someone in the meeting to help you draw up the sheet and get it started so you aren’t distracted when the action begins.
This can be a great icebreaker for a meeting. At one of my son’s meetings, the participants decided to make a copy of the sheet for each person to use as a reference. (Bear in mind that even though you may feel like the outsider, some personnel in a big school system may not know one another.) When the meeting ends, put the sheet in your notebook as a visual record of who attended and where each person sat. Your brain will be much more likely to remember that person’s name next time.
Business Card Bingo
Another easy memory helper we call “Business Card Bingo.” Ask each person at the table to give you a business card or write their name and job title on a small piece of paper. Arrange the cards in front of you in a pattern that corresponds to where each person is seated. Glance down at the cards when you need to jog your memory. Put the cards in a zippered pouch in your notebook (ideally with the meeting date on the back of each card) in case you need to contact someone later.
Have you found other helpful strategies to help you remember your IEP team member’s names? I would love to hear about your family-tested strategies and share them with our readers.