Transitions with Technology in your Pocket

Transition is a part of the educational process, it happens between years, between schools, between classrooms, and between teachers. It continues through every stage of the educational process and getting it right can make or break learning progression; it can support or undo emotional and wellbeing strategies.

Some students will have a lot of supporting information that travels with them. For these learners, additional needs may be well documented. The pack might contain an IEP(1), IBP(2), EHCP(3), or a ROS(4). If families regularly take part in wider discussions about health, care, or social needs with a wider team of professionals, the transition support package is usually very thorough. Transition can take place over many months and professionals may meet frequently to ensure learning needs can be met.

For the majority of learners, transition happens without an individual support package and without a learning or behaviour passport. This is because; in a busy school environment it is tricky to ensure that the strategies you have been using flow to the next teacher or school. Teaching is not a time rich profession and as such, with the best will in the world, some information does not get shared. Some of the work will be replicated, and often professionals spend a lot of time re-testing and re-presenting strategies that may have already been tried with students who are not typical learners.  

So what gets lost?  For the individual, it is the relationships with the class teacher that gets lost in transition. There are the strategies and nuances that cannot be quantified in a data-base, gems that flow from great teaching take time to crystallise. Think of a teacher who knows their students really well. They know that in order to establish an individual’s self esteem and willingness to learn, a fist bump and a smile is essential at the start of the day. They may have put in place simple wellbeing support, established basic routines and have soft strategies that enable a reluctant learner to take part. Tools like C3B4Me which encourages self directed learning or break out time with a Sensory Box may not get shared and if it does, it may not translate to the next learning experience.

So how can we manage successful transition and what is the most essential information to share when so many things are important? There is a huge list we could choose from that includes ensuring that friendships can be maintained, sharing emotional health concerns, or providing evidence of success or areas of gifts and talents.  All of these are important but, I would strongly suggest that the most important factor is ensuring that the strategies used for literacy are shared.

Literacy is at the heart of educational progress and when learning gaps emerge it is because the support that was previously in place and the routines and adaptations made to support literacy are not sustained after transition. Because of this many students with additional needs go through transitions with no flags raised.

This is my transition top tip to record the normal way of working in class that has been experienced. At the end of the day, ask your students to take out their learning tools and arrange them on the table top. You may find colour overlays, reading pens, writing slopes, pencil grips, traffic lights, volcano cards, or a card requesting use of speech to text software. Pop the learners name tag on each desk and take photographs of each work station. If you produce learning passports then attach the photo to the document. Other ways to share this information is to send the picture home to parents, and give a copy to the student themselves.

The best way to support successful transition is to support independent learning and awareness of the tools that are essential to that learner. When you have worked so hard to support students with great ideas and strategies through the year, make sure that they can still benefit from your insight. When your door closes and the next door opens you will know they have a literacy strategy picture that they can talk about.  

 

1. (Individual Education Plan)

2. (Individual Behaviour Plan)

3. (Education, Health and Care Plan)

4. (Record of Support)

Are you a Dyslexia friendly school? The Top Ten Checklist

1.     Think about visual noise

It is lovely to have lots and lots of displays around of students work. Or helpful posters and reminders about spelling.  Think about where these are displayed.  Having lots of posters/work around the board is added visual noise.  It distracts from the board.  Don’t have lots of displays around notice boards or signposts in the schools. Simple and clear makes it easier. 

2.     Don’t ask students to read aloud

I know. Everyone knows this one, except I still hear of it happening. Or the rest of the class is asked to read aloud and it’s obvious who isn’t. Ask for volunteers.

3.     Ensure Dyslexia students are not barred from high sets

If a student is orally capable of a higher set standard of work they should be in the higher sets.  Not being able to read or write because of Dyslexia should not be a bar to higher sets.

4.     Encourage Assistive Technology to be used

Allow assistive technology to be used. There are a wealth of paid for and free apps and technologies.  These can mean complete independent learning for dyslexic students.  It also prepares them for life after school.

5.     Support for lack of organisational skills

Dyslexia students are likely to be dis-organised, to expect anything else is unrealistic (similar to expecting my kids to have a tidy room).  Put in place support, reminders, spare kit etc to allow for this disorganisation.  Assistive technology can also help here with reminder alarms.

6.     Make sure students are recognised for verbal contributions

Dyslexia doesn’t affect intelligence, and often Dyslexic students can think outside the box.  Could you accept homework recorded as an MP3? Could make marking a little less boring for you as well!

7.     Have agreed visual clues

Do you have students who you know struggle to understand directions or content the first time, but they don’t like to ask you to repeat it? Have a visual clue that only you and they know, e.g. scratching their nose or pulling their ear.  You can then say, “let me just repeat that to make sure you’ve got it.” I am sure there will be other students who will benefit as well and the student won’t feel stupid.

8.     Students are praised for positive qualities

Dyslexic students very often only hear negatives about their ability.  We must appreciate the whole child.  Positive qualities must be recognised and valued. 

9.     Does not miss out on any activities

Can Dyslexic students access all your after-school clubs?  If not, why not? Many great actors are Dyslexic so that should not be a barrier to drama club. Half of NASA’s employees are Dyslexic so STEM activities stimulate Dyslexic students

10.  Create understanding amongst other students

It is important that other students understand Dyslexia as a learning difference.  That there is a reason why they do some things differently, or use technology in class.