Promote Communication and Collaborative Relationships
Other key elements in successful transitions include building strong communication, collaborative relationships, classroom visits, and professional development for staff.
Building Strong Communication
Creating a successful relationship with each family is critical. Once teachers receive a list of their incoming students, they should make personal contact with each family to share information about the transition into a new classroom. This discussion should include an overview of classroom expectations and curriculum, strategies used to support the student at school, a description of school processes and procedures, individualized education program (IEP) implementation, and positive behavior supports.
Keeping the lines of communication open between teachers and families is important. In addition to providing regular progress updates and opportunities for families to ask questions, teachers can provide reading materials, videos, or online resources to provide support and strengthen rapport. Building genuine, collaborative relationships will foster smooth transitions and future success.
Children with disabilities and their families require a collaborative effort to successfully navigate from one setting to the next. Before program, classroom, or grade-level transitions start, a collaborative team should meet to discuss specific student needs. This team should include staff from the sending and receiving classrooms and family members. By discussing all aspects of transition and coordinating transition activities between programs, both the parent and child should feel more comfortable and prepared for the transition to a new classroom.
A teacher can schedule classroom visits with the receiving classroom teacher to help build a successful relationship with a student with disabilities. Classroom visits are encouraged to help staff become acquainted with their new students even before classes begin. It is also beneficial for ECSE staff to visit kindergarten and elementary classrooms to support vertical alignment and set clear expectations.
Providing training on vertical alignment to teachers of various grade levels can promote a more comprehensive perspective and clarify future expectations.