February 28, 2014 § 2 Comments
Transitions happen yearly for most students as they progress from one grade to the next but major transitions only happen three or four times in public education. Right now we are preparing for my daughter to transition to middle school. She has been at her current school since the age of 3! She went for her first school evaluations at close to 2.5 years old. So as you can see a transition to a new school is MAJOR!
I have NO FEAR!
I am as surprised to say that as you are to hear it! I am looking forward to a fresh start for her. The past 7 years have had good times and bad! I am still grateful daily for the rock star preschool teacher my daughter had who was always honest, never judged and made it nearly impossible for anyone to fill her shoes! We have had quite a few exceptional teachers since then. Did I mention she did first grade twice – so yeah we’ve stayed at this school a long time. Although we had those exceptional teachers we have had the weight of her diagnosis and a dense IEP following her grade to grade, along with a one to one aide and a zillion accommodations – teachers must get a little sick when they find our my daughter is on their case load.
What’s different about middle school is that I am ready. I know how to start things off right this time. I know I need to ask for a lot of meetings before hand and make sure the staff is educated about her diagnosis before she arrives. I know what up I’m up against in terms of the administration and I finally am receiving outside support to help with all of this.
What is frustrating as I have said in past posts is when we leave it to the next teacher to gather the information on their own and so much gets lost in the transition and in translation. Teachers need to assist in advocating for students as they move from one grade to the next but the truth is so much gets lost in the shuffle. At the end of the year each teacher is swamped with work and information and at the start of a new school year every teacher is totally overwhelmed. We listen to past teachers and we read IEPs and prepare for accommodations and modifications but it still takes a while to get to know a student and truly understand their needs. I have a fantastic idea about how to make this process smoother and I need some time to execute it but when I do I will share it!
For now I am urging teachers to spend more time on transitions and advocate for their students moving on and off their case load. I urge parents to spend the extra time to sit down with the team and discuss in an explicit way about who your kid is and what you see as the big picture for them, what’s important and what you would wish the team would just let go of. Communication is essential and as parents we may end up getting dubbed “a squeaky wheel” but we all know what happens to a squeaky wheel don’t we 🙂