Follow these steps to drive change in your school’s transition practices. You’ll be practicing the art and science of implementation. These steps are excerpted from the handbook, A Step by Step Guide for Driving Change in Transition Practices using Tools and Resources developed under Next Steps NH (PDF, 10 pages, 2016).
Step 1: Designate a transition leader
The first task is to figure out who can be your Transition Team Leader. This person oversees the ongoing work of a Transition Leadership Team. The Team Leader also coordinates internal activities like setting up and facilitating meetings, and monitoring progress of team action plans.
You really need someone who has:
- Ability to dedicate 10-15 hours per month to the project
- Knowledge of school and departmental procedures and decision making processes
- Ability to facilitate meetings of their peers
- Some knowledge of transition requirements in special education
There are several other qualities it will be very helpful for your transition leaders to have. See the full guide below for details and examples.
Key question for Step 1: Who from your high school could fulfill the role of Transition Team Leader?
Step 2: Form a leadership team, develop a vision and mission
Your Transition Leadership Team will meet regularly to work on the comprehensive transition program elements specific to students with disabilities and students at risk of dropping out of school. This team can be an already existing team, but should include membership from key school departments as well as students and parents.
Vision, mission and principles
You also need a shared vision, mission and principles.
Vision: What will it look like in five years? Be brief!
Mission: How will you achieve the vision? Here’s a suggested format: The mission of (team) is to provide (what) to (whom) in order to (what).
Principles: These are “We believe” statements that state the project’s philosophical underpinnings.
Key questions for Step 2:
- Do you have a team that makes sure all youth with disabilities and youth at risk are involved in all the activities needed for successful transition?
- Are you working under a vision or mission statement that commit you to successful transition of youth with disabilities or youth at risk?
Step 3: Look at your transition-related data
Second, what internal data do you have? Examples:
- Department standards for student and family involvement in the IEP and transition process
- Existing transition and ELO policies and procedures
- Behavior and attendance data
Key questions for Step 3:
- What data do you want to see improve?
- How will you know you have made progress towards your vision or mission?
- Do you need different data? What will you put in your action plan about gathering data to track your progress?
Step 4: Evaluate your practices with fidelity tools
Fidelity tools describe best practices and help you figure out where you are compared to those practices. The fidelity tools we offer serve as both needs assessments and tools to track your progress over time.
The first task in this step is to decide which fidelity tools to use.
- If you want to implement transition planning activities and opportunities that are embedded in school-wide practices for students in special education and students at-risk, use the Transition-Focused Education Framework Fidelity Tool.
- If you want to implement best practice Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs), use the ELO Fidelity Tool from the BeyondClassroom website.
- If you want to implement high level family-school engagement in transition practices, use the Transition-Focused Education Framework Fidelity Tool and follow the Guide to Family Engagement Groups (PDF, 9 pages, 2014)
The second task is to complete your chosen fidelity tools over the course of several meetings, and using consensus.
Key point for Step 4: Decisions about what practices to improve and what activities are in place should be made by your full Leadership Team, not one person.
Step 5: Pick priorities, brainstorm and research solutions
First, as a full Leadership Team, pick your priorities. Look at the items you identify as “not in place” or “partially in place.” What items do you need to deal with first? Pick three to five items for the coming year.
Second, brainstorm solutions. How could this be addressed? What have peers done who have experience with this? What resources (people, tools, funds) do we already have related to this?
Third, research possible solutions. Search around the Next Steps website for trainings, tools and resources. Check out the Self Assessment used in the Drive Change in Your Own Practice section. It is organized into the same areas as the Transition-Focused Education Framework Fidelity Tool. What do local, regional and state experts in this topic suggest?
Key point for Step 5: You can’t do everything. You can always add more if you complete your action plan early.
Step 6: Create your action plan and get started
So, how do you turn all this into an action plan? We can offer you two examples, Fidelity Tool Results Worksheet and Action Planning Grid.
The Framework Fidelity Tool Results Worksheet (PDF) helps you pull related items from different parts of the Framework into one Focus area, and create action steps related for the Focus Area.
The Simple Action Planning Grid (PDF) is good if you are really focused on a couple of specific practices.
No matter what method you use, consider what’s reasonable to undertake in the coming year, given other work you have underway. Use the SMART goal approach – Actions that are Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic and Timely – to make your goals a reality. Or, more simply, “Who is doing what by when?”
Both templates are also available as MSWord docs:
Key point for Step 6: This is where something actually gets done. The action plan becomes the leadership team’s to-do list. Review it at each meeting.
Step 7: Review progress, reflect, and start again
- Meet regularly to review your progress on action steps.
- Hold each other accountable, encourage each other to keep going, and be willing to revise your plan.
At the end of the school year:
- Assess what has been completed. CELEBRATE IT!!!!
- Reflect on what worked and what didn’t work.
- Set a meeting schedule for the following year, include summer activities if appropriate.
- Resume your good work in the fall.
Key point for Step 7: Be sure to give (and take) credit for work accomplished! If you’re doing it right, the work is never done. You just get better and better at it.