Free Transition Resources for Special Educators
At a Glance
Transition planning is important for high school teachers, and even some middle school teachers to know.
We at AGU want to support you to get to this point where you can feel confident in leading the way in the transition planning process.
We all know - and research supports this - that the earlier we begin to work on transition planning with our students and their families, the better bridge in the community they’ll have when they leave the school system.
Special education laws require us to begin transition planning in high school. This age varies from states, from 14-16 years old. Make sure to check your state’s transition-age requirements.
So for high school teachers, and even some middle school teachers, transition planning falls in your jurisdiction.
This is a huge responsibility, and I know something that you’re not taking lightly. At the same time though, we are most likely not equipped ourselves with the information, resources, and connections for our students. Unless you specifically studied transition in your teaching program, you did not receive any training in this area.
We at AGU want to support you to get to this point where you can feel confident in leading the way in this transition planning process. That you have the tools handy for whenever a parent asks you a question about resources in your community or you know how to support a student with the very specific, and very common goal of becoming a video game designer.
Whenever our students exit the school system, whether that is at age 18 or aging out at 22, they may need the following components in place to help them with their goals: gain employment, enroll in post-secondary education, access the community, and/or adult and community-based services.
We all know - and research supports this - that the earlier we begin to work on transition planning with our students and their families, the better bridge in the community they’ll have when they leave the school system. This bridge gives them greater access to gain employment, participate in post-secondary education, have independent living skills and opportunities, and to be able to access the community.
“The earlier we begin to work on transition planning with our students and their families, the better bridge they’ll have into the community when they leave the school system.”
The following FREE resources are for teachers working with students at any and all support needs. The same holds true for all of our students: they will need a bridge to reach their goals.
The Transition Coalition is one of the most active hubs of information out there on transition planning. It is a project from the University of Kansas, which is THE university to go to for transition planning education.
On their site, they have a Resource Hub, trainings, and plenty of resources that you can grab and go for your classroom and students.
I’ve heard of many special educators and transition coordinators getting their CEUs and professional development through the trainings the Transition Coalition offers. And again, this is free. (As always with CEUs and professional development, make sure to double-check with your district if this would be appropriate.)
Their trainings and modules hold the most up-to-date information on transition planning and employment.
National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: The Collaborative (NTACT:C)
The National Technical Assistance Center on Transition: The Collaborative (NTACT:C) is an active technical assistance center and project currently co-funded by two sources: 1) the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and 2) the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA).
Their goal is to disseminate research and education around transition planning at multiple levels: from state agencies, to state departments of education, to districts, and individual teachers. So the resources on their website are the cutting-edge of transition planning!
Through their toolkits [under the TOPIC AREAS tab] give you the research findings on transition practices so you can feel confident about your work in transition planning with your students. Some even have a barometer to show you where a certain practice falls with being research-based or not.
Autism Grown Up
The majority of my experience has been in the transition planning space, and that’s one of the major goals with Autism Grown Up. To be able to provide you ongoing support and continually updated information and education around transition planning. That’s not restricted to the typical constraints of a research project: timelines, limited scope, and limited money.
Our work around transition planning is holistic - meaning that we know everything is interconnected, so that’s why we have resources on life skills, self-advocacy, and teams. These support the transition planning process, and underline the argument that transition is a lifelong experience. Not just a couple of the last years in high school!
Our free resource around transition planning: The Transition Planning Toolkit
Skills to Pay the Bills
The Skills to Pay the Bills curriculum from the US Office of Disability Employment Policy is a curriculum focused on teaching "soft" or workforce readiness skills to youth, including youth with disabilities.
A lot of secondary special educators refer to this curriculum when asked about what they use for career exploration and even social skills. It provides lessons to help you create hands-on, reflective experiences. I would say from seeing the content to implementing it, that it does take some time to create supports for your students - but the guidance from the curriculum can be very helpful.
The Zarrow Center
The Zarrow Center is based out of the University of Oklahoma. They have a TRANSITION RESOURCES tab, of resources that are completely free: a few curricula on self-advocacy and self-determination and assessments for self-determination. I think of the Zarrow Center as this great self-advocacy hub. Most of the curricula available on their website are earlier editions of curricula that are quite expensive.
National Parent Center on Transition and Employment (PACER)
The National Parent Center on Transition and Employment from the PACER Center is my go-to for sending parents before, during, and after transition planning meetings. This site helps answer questions and equip parents for thinking about the next steps after high school. Because you can only do so much as one person!
Just by sending along this website, your students’ parents will LOVE you for this. In the high school years, they tend to start realizing just how little support there is for them and their soon-to-be adult child, and this site can help quelm some early concerns and get them into preparation mode for adulthood.