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RES-866-RS-TSFocusGroup1.docx

TS Focus Group.m4a

Jodee: [00:00:03] So the first question that I have and please anyone feel free to jump in I interject I may ask some of you specifically. So the first question is How does political correctness influence the transition plan.

TS2: [00:01:15] As far as political correctness is concerned I think you know something that we always have to take a look at with families especially when we're working with them is the terminology. So like are we going to say the right thing to the parents. Are we not going to say the right thing especially with the laws and regulations changing so often and parents not being up to date on terminology. Sometimes the political correctness of it all comes into play.

TS2: [00:01:43] Also with taking a look at the transition plan and what the student actually wants to do. Being realistic about what the student is going to be able to do. And I actually said it instead of saying that. Instead of saying that a student can or cannot do something you have to be politically correct about it.

Jodee: [00:02:17] Does anyone have Any thing else that they would like to interject regarding how political correctness influences the transition process.

TS1: [00:02:24] Well I can add to that. Yeah I think really it is important that we present ourselves as ethical professionals and that helps build that trust relationship with the family and also with the staff that we're working with and having those Pre meetings where you talk with your staff about the best way to handle a difficult situation and how to present information let the student also advocate for themselves. It's really important and that's really sort of best-practice. So when you are working with them knowing the correct terms making sure you're up to date on the legal requirements making sure you have a way to document or help the student participate in the meeting itself. Can really make a difference when a parent is not really trusting the school. The student can speak for themselves anyway and how you help that happen. It makes a big difference.

Jodee: [00:03:34] Does anybody else have any anything else to share on from that perspective as you're holding a transition meeting. How does that factor into it.

TS7: [00:03:46] You know there are also and I think we talked a lot about this in my one on one interview. It is you kind of have to break it down as far as the area that the student wants to go is just two different components that I think of. You know I want to be that NFL football player or I want to be policemen whatever it is and being able to break down the skills and what interests that child in that job. And so you have to be able to be politically correct in breaking that down without making them you know feel like oh she's saying I can't be that in real life. And then also another piece that I feel is important that we have to really tiptoe around it. If we have to state providers that are attending the meeting. And oftentimes parents will say well I'm just going to get a check from this date forever. So my kids not really ever going to do anything.

TS1: [00:05:08] So you know to kind of pair off of what you had just said. So sometimes it goes back to that you have those challenges and oftentimes those challenges stem from working with one another. And you know very secondary true special education teacher is the one that's responsible for filling out that secondary transition plan. What are some of the challenges that you as transition specialist have with regard to that political correctness being able to guide the student to their goals on the secondary transition plan. Because quite often you maybe your role is in telling the team. I don't think that this is best suited for this child and here's why. Based on the assessments. That they've been given. Can anybody speak to that. Or. Other members of the team with regard to a student transition.

TS6: [00:06:57] I think sometimes there are differing opinions as to where the level is of the child or what they're able to do and whether it's the parents doesn't think there are teachers things to try and do it or you know what the student wants to do something know. You know and trying to bridge that gap and come to a consensus and change.

Jodee: [00:07:27] So what are some strategies that you can use to guide the team and getting everybody on the same page so to speak.

TS4: [00:07:41] I think what's always important is to remember that this is not a time for your feelings about the students or you know your feelings about the family or any of that. The idea is to remain objective. For me remaining objective in the process take out hopefully take out any type of feeling of bias. You know I can try to remember to encourage that within the staff. And my hope is that somebody can see things objectively that we're not saying this student can't learn were just saying that there will be struggles you know so it's me that can help facilitate that discussion in a more productive way.

Jodee: [00:08:32] that objectivity that you talked about Michelle is really important.Does anyone else have anything they'd like to share?

TS3: [00:08:42] I think also it's important to work with a child in an area that they're really good in but you have a child who is graduating and they are getting a completion certificate. They're not even getting a diploma so for example their math skills are not Anywhere where they need to be as a potential veterinarian. So we had a student that wanted to be a veterinarian and there was no WAY. then how do you have the child find a job that is still within that field like maybe a vet tech? I mean it's just something like within that field that they're really interested in then you can talk to the family about the different options. That's within their skill set but also to do a job that they really want to do in their life dream.

TS5: [00:09:57] I think that it comes down to just having that philosophy with your staff that. We are looking for a route. You were looking for a way to say yes you know what I mean you were looking for a way for what this child and the parent wants looking for a way to say yes and meet their needs. So number one just the culture Of your faculty your special ed director whoever is in the meeting. But I think it's all about the pre meeting. I think you really got to meet ahead of time. Get on the same page knowing what the kid wants to do and say What are some options we can think of ahead of time so that it's not the moment you're just trying to figure it out right then.

Jodee: [00:10:55] Yeah and you know what and just to kind of pair off of what you said to have that pre-meeting that was something that actually came up in our in our last focus group in terms of Do you do the pre meetings with or without the parent. And what can be some of those challenges?

TS4: [00:11:42] Yeah I just I just said that. Yeah I mean it's always a concern about pre-determination of some kind. So yeah it's always difficult. If they know that you've had a discussion and you're like no no no nothings determined so Yeah it's hard.

TS1: [00:12:05] Well one of the things that we did was we often would have parents survey so the parents were giving input and we kind of just met to collaborate. We had a collaboration meeting. It wasn't like a pre transition meeting. It was a collaboration meeting where we went over the parents surveyed the student survey and we did those annually so that we were always updating them. And that was part of our assessment process. But another thing too is to even just brainstorm opportunities for situational assessments so that when you actually go into the meeting there are some common language that could present to the parent and say maybe if this is a student's interest how do you feel about trying this or that and getting the g parent to get feedback as far as. Have you ever say if the student wanted to go to college but their scores aren't going to be high enough yet maybe you could convince that you could talk to the parent about it an assessment such as going online to the community college and taking a pre assessment for placement. If the student wanted to be in food service maybe there's an opportunity for them to volunteer at a nursing home or something like that where you could actually do a situational assessment with a kid in a common setting and you can set that up during that transition meeting as a suggestion. Following up on that at a later date with some actual data and then it doesn't really make it seem like you've predetermined anything. You've just made suggestions and you're following through does that make sense.

Jodee: [00:14:04] so let me ask you guys, What are some ways that you can help to collaborate with that secondary special ed teacher and getting that student back on track.?

TS3: [00:14:38] I think you have to find out why they're refusing.

TS7: [00:14:46] Yeah. Yes. Yes. It goes back to the initial relationship and you got to find whoever that person is that can really connect with that student. And a lot of times. You have to find out why and sometimes finding out that it's sometimes extremely difficult you know because we know when kids are getting ready to graduate go out into the real world. In reality they are scared to death because they don't know if they can succeed. So we can do things to build their confidence and have somebody that really has a good relationship with them and just start the conversation. So that's often helpful.

TS3: [00:15:34] I think you need to find out why there has to be a reason they're not interested and they're just afraid to take those next steps.

Jodee: [00:15:56] I'd like you guys to provide an answer to this scenario. If you have a student who's struggling with his or her teacher how would you handle this.

TS6: [00:16:10] Well I think it has to start with a conversation with the teacher to find out you know what's going on from their perspective and then also having a conversation with the students as to what's going on. You know to get their perspective and try to get everybody to look at things and it kind of goes back to that objectiveness that was talked about earlier. You know we're being objective here and what can we work out as we're almost like a mediator at that point.

Jodee: [00:16:56] Ok so TS2 I'm going to put you on the spot. What are some ideas that you have about that.

TS2: [00:17:04] I personally think as a transition specialist I will look at it from a different point of view. They're going to run into issues and problems on the job where as a teacher we're not going to be able to step in and help them. I would try to educate them a little bit better in communication skills and how to deal with problems in the workplace. Pair it to something like problems in the classroom and have them go self advocate for themselves and actually confront the teacher although it really does depend on the level of the student as well. I mean you know depending on where they're at and like cognitively could be the difference of what we decide to do with them but if we're talking in general that's what I would do I would try to give them some kind of a skill base for working with them. I may even contact their speech therapist if that's someone that's in play to do some social stories some role playing with them.

Jodee: [00:18:02] TS5 did you have something that you wanted to add to that I know you had asked about The population.

TS5: [00:18:08] Yeah I mean I definitely like what she was just saying that part of it you have to think about everyone. you're going to deal with different personalities and different scenarios in the real world in a job. And so I think a big part of that is to help them figure out what skills it is to communicate with somebody that's there superior. In this case that teacher or you know a boss. And so I think dealing with that unless situation is really serious. You know I think that. That's the first step in you're a mediator and really trying to flush out what's between the teacher and the students.

Jodee: [00:18:46] OK so how can you provide support to one another. For example the transition specialist to secondary specialist teachers when transitioning a student to higher education. Because I know want to learn the differences between vocational and higher ed transitions so. So this is specifically related to your higher ed transition.

TS4: [00:19:19] Oh I'm sorry this is this is TS4. I was just clarifying. So how do we support the secondary special education teacher.

Jodee: [00:19:28] Yes. How would you support the secondary special education teacher and in working with transitioning a student to higher education.

TS4: [00:19:41] Well I mean I would I would hope that they would already have some frequent contact with a case manager with say a counseling department within their school. Because a lot of times you can help facilitate getting that students signed up for a college visit or. You know of you know how do they get accommodations on the ACT or SAT those kinds of things. If you can provide that information maybe to the secondary special education teacher who may or may not be the case manager. then they can be more aware of those things as they come up again for another student.

Jodee: [00:20:25] Does anybody else have any anything that they'd like to add into that.

TS3: [00:20:36] When we transition a lot of higher ed kids like to a four year institution or even to like a two year but when we did we would even have the students sit in on classes so they would sit in on some freshman level classes with a transition specialists or the special ed teacher to kind of see what it feels like and then when get a better idea of what they need in the classroom to help them with that piece to and you know they wouldn't sit right next to them, they would sit A couple rows back and do that a couple times that the kid could get used to it. we were in really close contact with the counselors at the university or a junior college and to make sure that we had a plan for them if if they're anxious or if they couldn't access the curriculum for some reason or couldn't talk to their professor. They had someone to go to to help with that. So involve the parents too the parents to come down and talk with counselors. And so there's a lot of work to be done when it's a higher ed institution. It is almost like job coaching.

Jodee: [00:21:46] Does anybody else have anything to add to that.

TS7: [00:21:51] I think about the importance that you can them with a disability resource center. Show them that way. They know what their services will look like in that setting. Like those situations with assault centers around you were they were really good at working with students was very high functioning and had autism and really worked with the family to transition to that. And they did a fantastic job.

Jodee: [00:22:20] Thank you for bringing that up. And that's that's an excellent point. Go ahead TS1.

TS1: [00:22:24] Well I was going to say also working with the VR case manager on that is really a useful thing because they can be very helpful especially if the child is going to college if they're going to a university. It's harder to get VR involved because they want to see evidence that they're going to be successful and higher learning. I have had some students go to four year universities one actually went out of state and is still working on completing a degree. But it hasnt been without issues that it really help them learn how to contact the disability resource center getting the parents involved and understanding even the parents not even understanding that they can't have the same relationship with the school staff that they would have had at the high school level. I found a lot of parents didn't understand how their role would change and how no one will talk to the parent only to the student. And so that takes a certain amount of preparation not only for the parent but for the student to learn how to ask for that support. There has to be a lot of coaching on that.

Jodee: [00:23:42] So as a transition specialist, what do you feel is the most difficult part in trying to complete transitioning kids through high school?

TS4: [00:24:06] I think sometimes is helping them self advocate appropriately in terms of kind of theoretical you know kind of answer to you. I think that's kind of the hardest part of them You know not complaining. But you know you know or whining about something but specifically knowing how to request support or discuss what their strengths and weaknesses are in an appropriate manner.

Jodee: [00:24:39] Any difficulties with trying to get them to go from IDEA to ADA.

TS1: [00:24:55] sometimes I know that I used to use graphic organizer and actually have an activity where they had to actually compare IDEA and ADA supports So that it was actually something that would be included in their portfolio because I had to make a portfolio. And so it was kind of in their toolbox so they could see what could they provide what couldn't they provide. And that was when I was a teacher and as a specialist I provided some of those resources to the teacher.

Jodee: [00:25:36] Anybody else have anything to share on that.

TS5: [00:25:40] I was going to say that I think that comparing the two. I love her idea that such a great idea and I think so for the students to realize that what they've been receiving possibly for you know 10 years is it's going to be available on the same level it's going to change. And then having the parents see that as well. You know we've talked a little bit with the university but it's still true. Like when they go to a job the parent can't come in and say you know I need you to accommodate them coming in late every day or whatever. So I think that both the student and the parent be educated on differences and how to advocate because I think when it when they leave high school they have to advocate for themselves.

TS3: [00:27:06] Well I was I was just I was going to say what a great idea that was for the flow charts. I didn't really have any issues with it except I mean the parents truly understand the differences. But once once we explained that to them they seemed fine so but I like the flowchart idea.

Jodee: [00:27:22] So what what are some of the collaboration challenges as a transition specialist that you all encountered when working with parents on transitional goals.

TS6: [00:27:44] I think it's just a matter of finding a way to get them to understand that you are preparing them for their post-secondary environment. And you didn't realize that they do something and they're not going to necessarily lose their check.

Jodee: [00:28:06] And does anybody have any issues with maybe the unrealistic expectations. And ideas on how to work through that with the parents.

TS6: [00:28:26] I think that's where you have to focus on the data and the skills and keep the objectivity. This is what we know the student has strengths in this is what we know their abilities are their skill level and looking at that to help prepare and understand.

Jodee: [00:28:52] Anybody else have anything else that they want to interject on that one.

TS3: [00:28:57] Well I think you see it from the other end too that they're not involved when you get them to be involved in the transition plan. you see over involvement and being unrealistic and then you have the other one saying you're just going to take care of this right. They can do anything. No you need to be a piece of a part of this. So I you know I ran that a couple of times we had to discuss what their role was to control the school's role. To put it all out there so they understood.

Jodee: [00:29:25] Very good points. Anybody else want to chime in on that one.

TS2: [00:29:29] I think something else too that I'd like to bring up is as a transition specialist we often get some kind of flack that we don't know the student as well as the special education teacher does. So you know that's another issue with parents as we are the specialist in the area. We have all these great ideas but you don't know my child like I know my child because I've grown up with I have had my child ever since they're a young special education teacher has them every single day you come in randomly. That's the other I think challenge that we often see.

TS7: [00:30:03] And that's that's I think where that collaboration with the secondary special ed teacher and allowing them to support you also comes into play too.

Jodee: [00:30:25] How can you as a collaborative team form those relationships and provide support to parents of students with autism or any other disability as they're transitioning from secondary to that higher education setting.

TS2: [00:30:46] I would say it's taking the time to really get to know the students. You know I mean you definitely want to bond with your team and have a strong team together. But if you truly know the student and you go into the classroom and you get to know who they are that's going to help formulate a lot better the collaboration process because you're all going to be on the same page.

Jodee: [00:31:09] Anybody else have anything else that they want to interject.

TS5: [00:31:13] I was going to say I looking at it as a process and not an event, that is really important. It's like there's not one day that you're doing that transition plan but like you're looking toward for over a year before we get to that point. For me it's so like what she just said about going in and getting to know the students. You know who's going to transition so you're preparing for that. Teachers are preparing. The student and the parents are preparing. It's not just a one meeting that we fill out this plan.

Jodee: [00:31:50] Anybody else have anything that they want to add to that.

TS4: [00:31:56] Well the only thing I would add would be making sure maybe everyone kind of alluded to that but make sure that you use Access or gain the parent perspective or any of that kind of stuff so that they feel like they their voice has been heard perhaps help to make it a little bit more collaborative effort.

Jodee: [00:32:17] OK so here's a question to poses for all of you here. A student enters the high school setting, special education teacher meets with them fills out the transition plan, The student goal is written. When. Are. You brought in to collaborate. At what point is the transition specialists supposed to be integrated to start that collaborative process. Is it something that comes from the special ed teacher to you or do you keep track of those students coming in and then go and meet with the case managers.

TS7: [00:33:04] I think it depends on what district you're in because not every district has somebody specific just for transition a lot of times it is left up to the special education teacher/case manager. You know different people do a different way. And I've seen it done both ways where the case manager takes care of things. Otherwise there's a communication plan like three months ahead of when the IEP is due where you're doing your initial assessments getting to know the kid and starting to collect some evidence to work into the transition plan.

Jodee: [00:33:47] TS3 did have something you wanted to add.

TS3: [00:33:54] Um like she was saying, not everybody has that position so it's almost as if their case manager becomes a transition person for a while. And they already know that child. So they're pretty much in it from the beginning. It's like a lot of districts don't have the money to have someone and they can't help all of them either. The kids they have to service so a lot of times they're brought in senior year. You know or they're brought in to sign off on certain things and the IEP team decides the child things like that they're going to they need a job coach their senior year. You know the transition person would come in and say OK you know we can we can do that piece. This is how we're going to transport the child or whatever they're going to do. But in a lot of times the case managers are there from the beginning.

TS4: [00:34:35] So it is the secondary transition plan a tool to foster collaboration.

TS4: [00:34:44] It can be and it should be.

TS7: [00:34:47] I mean you would hope so because you're who you want to go off of the staff member doing so well and assign components of that transition plan to their responsibility for supporting developing good skills and work toward the goals.

Jodee: [00:35:05] So just a few more questions here. What are some suggestions that you all might have to increase that collaborative process between one another?

TS6: [00:35:56] I think it is a good idea to increases collaboration.

TS4: [00:35:59] This is TS4 and I'm new to you I'm new to my district and new to my state so and also my buildings haven't had somebody dedicated to them for a while so kind of getting back in and in reminding them of of what you know is expected of them regarding to transition has been a good process but maybe a little slow process but a lot of times I've just been there to talk to them and see what I can do to help them. You know I mean I'm just kind of sometimes i maybe a little bit in their face or maybe too much but I'm always there kind of offering support and validating their struggles and all of that kind of stuff that they have. And just offering you know what is it that you think you need. You know how is it related to transition that I can help. And unlike maybe some other people I have that luxury to be able to do that right now.

Jodee: [00:36:53] Anyone else.

TS3: [00:36:59] Well I was going to say I'm kind of what TS4 is saying is to clarify roles so that everybody knows what everybody's job is and what their role is in the transition plan that helps with collaboration. Just to remind everyone I think every time. OK so you're in this role and this is what you're going to do for the child and what you're going to do for the parent...that way. And this is what we do for each other and this is how how we're going to communicate. I think it's good to do that up front and make sure everyone's clear about that.

Jodee: [00:37:25] Anyone else have anything that they want to add to that.

[00:37:31] So as a transition specialist do you feel adequately prepared to transition students with disabilities to higher education or if you don't. What are some things tools resources those types of things that you would need in order to be able to effectively do that in your opinion. This is all Your perception.

TS2: [00:37:56] Money. I think money. I mean I think honestly as a transition specialist we wouldn't be in this position if we didn't feel that that we were qualified enough to be able to assist students transition out of high school. However at the same time we do have a lot of limitations. Money is definitely one of them. Also resources as far as I know I've had a lot of difficulties getting job coaches assistants that sort of thing to help the transition process run a little bit. Well there it really when it comes to public education it really does come down to funds funding.

TS7: [00:38:43] And I had kind of the opposite experiences I had the opposite experience where we readily had money available to us to help support developing the transition plan taking it out into the community getting the work place skills that they needed. Things like getting your food handlers card taking them on tours of different either universities technical school whatever specifically pertained to them and transportation wasn't an issue because it happens to be that with some of the old transportation funds when they were expiring we were able to by transition buses. So we didn't have to worry about about setting something up the transportation and being on a limited schedule. We had readily available transportation.

TS6: [00:39:55] Wow. Good for You! That's awesome!

Jodee: [00:39:57] Anybody else have anything else that they want to add to that.

Jodee: [00:40:04] And so last question is who you speaking to kind of what TS7 just mentioned with district support but what are some of the supports that you would need from your district in order to foster that collaboration process with one another providing those resources for transition services.

TS3: [00:40:31] Oh I think training is important for especially people that are new to special education and new to transition I think training is really important that they know how to write those plans and how to service the kid the best.

TS6: [00:41:01] Really just knowing the resources are available. Well it kind of goes back to the training and knowing what resources are available and what all the different options are that are available for the students.

Jodee: [00:41:16] Anybody else have any final thoughts that they'd like to share?