Raise your hand if facilitating transition from early intervention (EI) has been challenging for you or your staff?
Rest assured, you are not alone! We, on the professional development team, consistently hear from service coordinators (especially newbies) and local EI system managers that transition is daunting. They tell us that they or their staff struggle with managing the timelines, filling out the IFSP transition pages, scheduling the meetings, and generally keeping all of the requirements in mind. EI practitioners want to make sure the process works well for families, and as you know, transition is federally monitored so it is very common to feel pressure to “do it right.” To help you help your staff, or help yourself, ensure smooth transitions, we’ve developed a new Transition from Early Intervention Learning Path.
What is a Learning Path?
Learning Paths are small collections of curated activities that focus on an EI topic. To learn about the topic, learners complete each activity on the path. Activities might include reading an article, completing an online module, watching a video, etc. Once the learner completes the learning path, he/she takes a final quiz to earn a certificate documenting the professional development hours earned.
We have several learning paths available now – two on Autism Spectrum Disorder and five on functional assessment. In this post, we’re going to focus on our newest learning path on transition and talk about how to use it with your staff, whether you are meeting in-person or virtually.
A Four-Step Plan for Staff Development
Here are four steps you can use or adapt when helping your staff brush up on their knowledge about transition from EI:
1. Open a discussion about transition during a staff meeting.
Before your staff start the learning path, pull them together for a virtual or in-person meeting about transition or add this to your staff meeting agenda. Use open-ended questions to facilitate a discussion that airs out the challenges and makes room for successes and strategies. Be open to hearing what your staff still need to know. Here are some examples of guiding questions:
- What’s going well this year with transition?
- What do you find challenging about transition? Why?
- What questions do you have about facilitating transition?
- What does a successful, smooth transition look like?
- What tools and strategies are you using now for successful transitions?
2. Guide your staff through the Transition Learning Path.
Introduce your staff to the transition learning path by taking them on a web tour during the meeting, or email them the link to the path with instructions for what to do. To familiarize yourself, take a moment now and visit the Transition Learning Path. Review the six activities, then come back here for more ideas for how to continue the learning process.
Here are some options for how to help your staff move through the path:
- Have staff do one activity before each staff meeting for the next 6-7 meetings
- Convene a special transition discussion group to do each activity together then discuss
- Give staff a deadline to complete the learning path then get together to discuss using specific guiding questions
- Identify staff partners to work through the path together by completing activities and coming together regularly to meet, then pull the whole group together to discuss and share insights.
Or, if you are an individual service coordinator or service provider, you can complete the path on your own. I recommend completing the activities across several sessions rather than trying to knock it all out in one afternoon. The path results in a certificate documenting four professional development hours (after completing a knowledge check) so you will get the most out of it by absorbing the content across time.
3. Continue the learning with a Transition Learning Byte.
Learning across time is always more effective than learning from a single event or resource. The nature of the learning paths encourages learning across time, but you can extend the conversation even further by using the Shooting the Transition Hoop Learning Byte. Learning Bytes are staff meeting activities on a variety of EI topics. The purpose of the transition learning byte is to guide learners as they review key things to remember about transition and reflect on how they can use this information in their daily work with children and families. This could be an activity you do after a group discussion about what was learned from the learning path as a way to debrief. Or, use this learning byte two weeks or a month later to refresh and revisit transition.
4. Revisit the Transition from Early Intervention Services to Part B Preschool Special Education Performance Checklist in 3 months.
Another idea to stretch the conversation and continue the learning would be to use the Transition Performance Checklist multiple times. It is included as an activity on the learning path, but you could have your staff complete it again three months down the road as a self-assessment, either during a group meeting, at supervision, or during peer observations.
Transition is an ongoing process that is so important to ensuring families leave EI with confidence. Whether your staff includes service coordinators, service providers, or both, all EI practitioners can benefit from an understanding of the process. If you want more information or resources about transition, be sure to visit the VA Early Intervention Professional Development Center site’s Transition topic page.
How could YOU use the new Transition Learning Path?
Share your ideas in the comments below!
Resource Highlight: Transition Tutorials
This 4-part series of video tutorials is part of the learning path but can be very useful to staff on their own. These tutorials explain how to complete the transition section of VA’s IFSP and additional requirements in the process:
- Transition: A Series of Family Decisions
- Transition: Developing the Plan and Documenting the Steps
- Transition in Action: Scenarios
- Transition Conference Requirements
Look for the tutorials on the VEIPD Transition topic page, under the eLearning tab!