CONNECT Module 2: New CONNECT Module on Transition Supports National EC Priorities

by Rena Hallam
 

4-year college faculty member Rena Hallam discusses how the most recent
CONNECT Module on Transition supports the new national EC priorities on transition.

Transitions can be times for both opportunity and stress for all of us. Transitions are often moments where we need additional information to make good decisions as well as support from family, friends, and others as we take on new risks and challenges.  Young children and families are no different - a toddler who has stayed at home with his family and is about to enroll in preschool or a preschooler who is preparing for kindergarten – all require sensitive planning to support the child and family.

A new CONNECT Module addresses these transitions for young children with disabilities and their families.  Designed to be embedded into college courses as well as in-service training, this module outlines early childhood research and policy that should be considered in transition planning.  Further, specific tools designed to enhance practice both in home visits and in classroom settings are provided.  This module is particularly timely as new efforts to improve early care and education are increasingly focused on planning for transition and improving collaboration among early childhood programs.

In particular, priorities outlined in the Blueprint for Learning which has been released as part of the Obama Administration's revision of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) identifies transition and increased coordination among early childhood programs as a top priority.


About the Author: Dr. Rena Hallam is Associate Professor in the Department of Child & Family Studies at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

COMMUNITY QUESTIONS

  • How is your state responding to these new priorities?
  • How could you use this module in your professional development efforts?

Comments

Looking forward to using the Module

Hi,
I am embedding the Transition module into a Child Growth and Development course I am teaching this fall, and am greatly looking forward to it! My plans include using the Transition module as a “transition” between the course section on infants and toddlers and the section on preschoolers. At present, much of the information presented in the Module is covered in the course in a more segmented manner (e.g. identifying strengths and challenges, supporting adaptation to a new environment, home visits, IEPs, and classroom environments). The module allows me to streamline and present information in a more meaningful and cohesive manner, and the video resources far surpass what I presently use. In addition, the use of the 5-step evidence-base decision making process adds a new layer of critical thinking for students when compared to how the material has historically been presented. I think this will be of great benefit to students in terms of seeing the “big picture,” related components, and their role in ensuring successful transitions.

Looking forward to using the Module

Johanna:
A agree with this novel approach of thinking about transition within a developmental model. Often teachers think of transition as an administrative function, but this demonstrates how we need to consider very specific child impacts as they adjust to new settings along the way - especially as we move them out of infant toddler settings into preschool. I too look forward to your future postings on how this worked!

Looking forward to using the Module

Thanks Beth. I used portions of the Transitions Module in my Child Growth and Development course last week and it went wonderfully. The students were introduced to the dilemma, and after describing it, specifically focused on supports provided to facilitate transitions (home visits, phase-in days, and attention to the environment). We spent a great deal of time focusing on the different families presented and what they found supportive in terms of their individual situations, and wrapped up with the perspectives of the teachers, families and therapists. One of the models we rely on heavily in this course is Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model, and the students were able to make so many interesting connections, including how changes in the chronosystem required new supports and collaboration.
I have taught this class for about 13 years, and found that the addition of the CONNECT module really provided a new way to present materials and help student make new connections—using the resources in this way really emphasized the importance of partnership and collaboration, and, as an outcome I anticipated, helped me present materials in a more cohesive fashion as a part of a “big” picture of services and supports.

Looking forward to using the Module

Thanks for sharing how the Transition Module worked in your course. What a great point about connecting information to other course content. We also focus on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Model. I will incorporate these ideas and hopefully help students make the "connections" when I use the Transition Module next week.

Looking forward to using the Module

Hi Junie,
We look forward to learning from you about your implementation of the transition module and how you help the students make connections. Keep us posted!

Looking forward to using the Module

Johnna,
Love hearing how all of this is working. It would be great to be able to share your syllabus with others and any other course information that might be useful to other faculty after you finish the semester, if you are willing. Thank you for sharing your ideas and reactions as the semester moves along.

Child Growth and Development Course

This is so good to hear. I love that you looked at differential needs of families and how to individualize the transition supports provided. And the use of the ecological perspective so students are able to understand the contexts in which transition planning occurs. It is often hard to help students see the "big picture" while focusing on the supports needed at the individual level as well. I so appreciate your willingness to share your experiences.

Looking forward to using the Module

Wow. What a creative way to help the learners move from the infant to preschool sections of the child development course. Eager to hear how this plays out over the semester. Thanks Johnna.

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

Rena, the module on transition addresses a critically important topic for teacher educators and their students in early childhood. Given your expertise on this topic and in the area of professional development, can you offer a few practical suggestions for how higher ed faculty and others might incorporate the module resources into one of their courses? Specifically, how do you see instructors using the 5-step evidence-based decision making process as part of required coursework in early childhood?

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

Virginia, this particular module is flexible and could be integrated into a range of courses depending on program curriculum. This fall, the module is being piloted at the University of Delaware in a course designed to highlight interagency and family partnerships for young children with and without disabilities. The transition module could also be integrated into courses focused on individualized planning for children and of course, transition. In all of our courses, we strive to help students build their critical thinking skills and become reflective practitioners. The 5-step evidence-based decision making process provides a framework to assist students in this regard. This process helps students to think through real-life dilemmas and consider how research informs practice decisions.

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

I am using the Transition module this semester in a course for undergraduates entitled 'Early Intervention for Young Children with Special Needs'. I plan to use the module as we examine Early Intervention, IFSP practices, transitions to Preschool settings and the IEP. I plan to show the initial video in class and discuss, and then have students work on module outside of class, and revisit module together after students complete it individually. I used the Embedded Intervention module in the class last semester, so am familiar with the framework and will have introduced the students to Evidence-Based Practices and the PICO model prior to introducing the Transition module. I'm thrilled with the quality of the video clips and additional materials.

PICO

Could you say a little more about how you did/will introduce students to the PICO model prior to using the Transition module? Was it through the Embedded Interventions module? If not, how did/do you introduce PICO, and are the activities in Step 2 of helpful as follow-up to your own introduction of PICO for the students?

PICO

I have to admit that the PICO model did not go smoothly when I conducted the Communication module. It was confusing to my students because I did not review the process. I will make sure I review PICO from the Embedded Interventions module when I conduct Transition module next week.

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

I'm also using the Transition module this semester in a course for Early Childhood undergraduates. I plan to use the module in my "Parent Involvement" course when we discuss IFSP practices and transitions to Preschool settings. I plan to show the initial video in a class meeting along with a guest speaker who conducts early intervention services. Then I will work through the Transition module in a future class meeting.
I used the Embedded Intervention module in a course last semester with students completing the module individually in the online portion of the class. I recently worked through the Communication module in a face to face class as a whole group (and found it necessary to print many copies of the handouts and worksheets). I would like to use the 5-step evidence-based decision making process with the Transition module in a combination of the two formats (individual and whole group). I plan to work through the module in a face to face course with each student working at a computer. Students will be able to access the handouts, worksheets and resources without printing but also have the opportunity to hold live discussions.

Communications module

Junie, We have lots of questions for you! I am interested in how your students reacted to the communication module. Any feedback for us on that?
thanks

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

Terri, I look forward to hearing about the implementation of the module in your Early Intervention course, particularly your interpretations of how students react to the materials and tools. I am also interested in the integration of the PICO model across courses, this seems like a very effective way to promote continuity throughout the curriculum. Please let us know how it goes.

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

Thanks, Rena. That helps me think about this within a preservice/higher ed context. I would also like to hear from someone in the field who provides PD outside of higher education to get an idea of how the module on transition practices could be used in continuing education (often times with students who only sign up for a single PD event).

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

Greetings Rena and Virginia,
I would be glad to share my experience is using the CONNECT modules in a PD setting. This summer, I used the Embedded Interventions module for a one-day session with a great group of early intervention and preschool teachers who wanted to improve the functionality of their students' goals. The wealth and quality of the materials allowed us to walk through the process in a clear and shared way, which would be very helpful with a process as complex as transition. We established a common framework through watching the videos together, and learning about the student, family, and program concerns. We also listened to the audio segments to learn the perspectives of each team member. We then worked through the five-step process together, establishing the dilemma in step 1, turning the dilemma into a question which moved us into considering solutions in step 2, viewed the evidence from the field in step 3, decided on an intervention plan in step 4, and then discussed specific methods for evaluating our plan in step 5. The videos and audio clips allowed us to begin on the same page; the handouts gave concrete examples of possible strategies which we then expanded as a group, giving them a sense of confidence and mastery for the task. We then developed evaluation criteria for the planned intervention, using the handout and activities provided. As we progressed through each step, the teachers and providers completed activities based on the sample child, and then most importantly, applied these skills for one child on their caseload. By the end of the day, they had a specific plan to implement once they returned to their students. Thanks for a wealth of great materials on transition, as the materials illustrate each step of the transition process clearly and succinctly, and include the diverse perspectives of all members of the team.

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

Caroline: What an amazing description of how this module worked for you and your learners. The fact that the process led to the application of new transition practices for the benefit of individual children and families brings us back to why we all do what we do. Thanks so much for sharing.

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

Caroline, Thanks for sharing this example and the outline for the one day session. This is such a helpful template; I'll bet others might use this. Could they get in touch with you if they wanted more information?
Thanks

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

Sure; my email is caroline.gooden@uky.edu!

Suggestions for Using the Transition Module

To build on your comment Virginia, I was recently with a large group of early childhood teachers working in a variety of settings (private child care, pre-k and Head Start) in another state and they seemed very uninformed about the transition policies that are in place. Some of them were enrolled in or had recently graduated from an early childhood community college program; however, the topic of transition as defined by children and families moving from one program to another had not been covered in their coursework. Is this unusual or is this a topic that typically does not get included in community college and continuing education courses? What are others' perspectives on this?