1) Review: Introduction, Description, Objectives, and Key Concepts of lesson
2) Complete: Activity 1: Anticipating Transitions
3) Read: Material in Your Essential Library
5) Complete: Activity 2: Building Bridges
The first two lessons in Strand One: Birth through Grade 12 as a Continuum and a Single System have focused on the distinguishing features of different levels and systems of education and ways to build those into an integrated learning continuum. In this lesson in Strand One, specific strategies to promote successful transitions throughout the learning continuum are presented. This provides students with concrete guidance on the ways leaders can implement policies and practices that will not only help create better aligned systems, but also improve students’ experiences as they progress through the learning continuum.
This lesson helps students to look at transitions between different levels of education from the context of a systems approach to the birth – grade 12 continuum. Students learn strategies to smooth transitions and build necessary bridges to create better aligned systems that will benefit their students’ educational experiences and growth as they navigate the learning continuum.
After completing this lesson, students should be able to:
Transitions are an inevitable part of our education system.
Transitions can occur at anytime throughout the education continuum (as students may move horizontally from school-to-school or program-to-program), but transitions typically occur at intervals as children move vertically from Early Childhood Education to Kindergarten, Elementary School to Middle School, Middle School to High School, and High School to Post-Secondary education or career. Given their inevitability, understanding how transitions influence children and how best to create smooth transitions is a key task for school leaders in supporting an integrated learning continuum.
Transitions are often difficult for children and families.
Because of the "siloed” nature of our educational organizations, children moving from one level of education to another face new expectations, new people, new practices, new facilities, etc., often without the support of adults. Unsupported transitions can be confusing and/or traumatic for children and lead to social, emotional, and academic setbacks. Children and their families/caregivers are not often prepared for educational transitions, and thus suffer from lack of preparation and support.
Leaders play a key role in creating smoother transitions through the learning continuum.
In their leadership capacity, school principals have an important responsibility to create smoother transitions for children. Promoting alignment among curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development practices will help ensure educational experiences progress in a predictable and consistent way for students. School leaders can also adopt specific strategies that support better alignment within-school and across-schools--in essence, helping to establish a better integrated and more seamless learning continuum. These strategies are especially effective when supported by better and more collaborative relationships among staff that enable them to become familiar with the teaching practices of their colleagues, particularly in the grades preceding and succeeding their own. In doing so, school staff are able to tailor their classroom practices and prepare their students in ways that are better aligned.
Children’s caregivers play a key role in successful transitions.
Caregivers are an important resource and partner in creating smoother transitions for students as they move through the education continuum. Meaningful caregiver and family engagement that provides upfront communication and transparency about the curriculum and instruction, philosophies, behavior systems, and social-emotional expectations of subsequent levels of education help families better prepare for transitions. Open communication with parents throughout the school year can facilitate smooth transitions.
It is important to understand where your learners come from and where they are going.
Children do not arrive at your setting—whether it is early childhood, elementary, or high school—as a blank slate. They have cultural and linguistic identities and backgrounds, academic experiences, expectations, assets, and goals based on their prior experience in other settings, including their homes and communities. School leaders and staff must understand this contextual and socio-linguistic background, learners’ current developmental and learning needs, and the opportunities and needs of future educational settings to best support smooth transitions through the learning continuum.
Data and information sharing facilitates smoother transitions.
When students enter new schools or classrooms without any information about their families, assets, strengths, or needs, teachers are ill equipped to support them through the transition. Sharing data or information from a student’s previous teacher and/or school helps familiarize teachers with the needs of their students during times of transition. By coordinating a data sharing effort between and among different levels and systems of education (e.g. engaging P-20 council for assistance), leaders can support smoother transitions for students.
LINC has identified the following resources as the most essential current resources to help you inform yourself on this topic. You should peruse each of these resources prior to teaching this lesson. If you would like to complete additional research in this topic, there are optional resources in the Additional Resources for Further Study section.
To synthesize the material completed thus far in this lesson, consider the following through either small group discussion or individual writing response:
Activity 1: Anticipating Transitions
This pre-lesson activity is designed to help students consider the various dimensions of school transitions. It should be completed prior to reading the material in Your Essential Library or participating in the discussion/writing response.
Activity 2: Building Bridges
This post-lesson activity is designed to help students identify strategies that will support smoother school transitions. It should be completed after the rest of the lesson has finished.