Tips

All Tuesday Tips

It’s time to say goodbye for the summer. Thank you for sticking with us for this past year of our Tuesday’s Transition Tips. We want you to know how much we appreciate all you do and all you’ve accomplished—zillions of Zoom meetings; figuring out how to expand minds and passions when you’re sitting in front of a computer screen; creating Transition IEPs that help students plan and grow; and learning new processes, tools and strategies.

Before we go, one more reminder: Don’t forget to register for Facing the Future Together, July 21-23. You’ll see more about our virtual, statewide transition conference in your inbox, but you can also check out our conference webpages to see who’s speaking when and on what topics.

SPECIAL NOTE:  As part of the conference, the annual meeting of the Indiana Cadres of Transition Leaders is scheduled for Thursday, July 22, from 3-4:15 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there!

We’ll be back in August with more Tuesday’s Transition Tips. Meanwhile, have a sunshiny, garden growing, outdoor fun, family- and friend-filled summer!

Sometimes it’s difficult to visualize the possibilities when you’re living with the day-to-day challenges. To help students, families, and caregivers understand what’s actually doable, we suggest sharing videos of transition success stories.

Take a look at the “Transition to Life After High School” page from the Pacer Center, Minnesota’s parent training and information center. The page features a subpage of employment success videos. Be sure to watch the one on customized employment and then scroll down to see videos from young people with disabilities.

Jared will tell you about his web design business that he’s able to run thanks to his sip and puff assistive technology. Nick operates his own lawncare business. And John explains how he’s been able to explore his strengths in the world of tech.
While they’re visiting the Life After High School pages, parents and students may also want to check out the Pacer Center’s videos on independent living, assistive tech, and self-advocacy.

You can share links to these videos in newsletters to home, at transition fairs, or via parent nights. Some students may enjoy watching them as part of their transition program or youth employment activities.

It’s May, and we know you and your students are sliding into summer after what’s been a particularly challenging year. Many of our teens and young adults may be facing several months of isolation and could be even less connected to friends and their communities than they are now.

It’s also Mental Health Awareness Month, so we want to make you aware of a couple of good resources.

  • Study.com has an online Mental Health Guide for High School Students. It’s not pushy and offers good tips and suggestions from a teen perspective. Includes information about technology supports, establishing social media limits, diet, exercise, meditation, sleep, escaping into nature, and more. Interesting tidbit: The guide includes a note in the COVID section about the importance of both creating a routine as well as breaking it sometimes. (They suggest an 80/20 percent split.)
  • The Indiana School Mental Health Initiative (ISHMI) is a project of the Indiana Institute on Disability and Community (so are we!). Check out their resilience resources in the Topics A-Z section. You’ll also find a listing of the state’s School District Behavior Consultants and of the Social Emotional Learning/Mental Health Coordinators in the Resource section.
  • Involve your students in Mental Health Awareness Month by sharing information and materials from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) campaign “You Are Not Alone.” You can read stories there of individuals who’ve shared their experiences, or you can share your own.


Reminder:Join us tomorrow for Transition Talk at High Noon. We’ll be chatting with and learning from team members of the Center on Community Living and Careers who specialize in employment—from both a VR and community employment perspective. For more information and the Zoom link, see our Transition IEP Training and Support page.

Today we’re highlighting two “testimonial” videos from the transition portfolio training series. The videos offer different perspectives as to how portfolios can benefit teachers, Pre-ETS instructors, employment services providers, parents, and—especially—students.

The first video is from Niki Ford, a supervisor and teacher of her school’s employment training program. After switching to online portfolios three years ago, she’s seen multiple benefits. Having a one-stop-shop for documents and records helps families when their students leave school—and it means they won’t need to call you years later for a copy of a resume or the name of that job experience supervisor from sophomore year.

Niki also reports that digital portfolios create “incidental learning opportunities,” when students begin to see their portfolios as a reference and a problem-solving tool. In her sample Google Sites portfolio, she demonstrates the use of a table of contents to easily navigate the many documents they’ve added. Cool idea: The sample included quick-reference scripts for things like calling in sick.

Video number two is from Mary Ellen Jones, the youth and family supports manager for Stone Belt. Mary Ellen, who also oversees Pre-ETS and Project SEARCH, explains how helpful portfolios can be from an adult service provider perspective. A good portfolio, with documentation about a student’s strengths, preferences, and former experiences, gives providers a chance to jumpstart the Discovery part of the employment process. Mary Ellen also likes the transferability of portfolios—students can continue to build their portfolios and take them from one provider to another.

And finally, she encourages all of you to reach out to your Pre-ETS providers and make portfolios a collaborative work in progress. Pre-ETS providers also need portfolio information, so “do it together,” she says. “We want to make this a little less daunting for all of you.”

We’ve now uploaded all five Transition Portfolio Training modules, which originally debuted in March, to the INSTRC website. You’ll find them under the Training tab and on the Transition Portfolio Training and Support page. Scroll down to “Archived Transition Portfolio Training Modules.”

Scrolling even further on the page brings you to Transition Portfolio Office Hours. If you have a question, we’re here, every Wednesday, from 2:30-4:30 p.m., Eastern Time. Just click on the link to join the discussion.

Portfolio-related information update: After we completed the five modules in March, we learned of a change to the submission requirements. The finished portfolios of students with IEPs must contain, at a minimum, at least four artifacts (one per year). In order to better reflect a student’s strengths, preferences, and interests, however, best practice is that teachers and their students add at least four artifacts to their portfolios per year, for a total of 16 by the time students exit high school. Artifacts must provide information about all four domains: Student Information, Student Learning Characteristics, Academic Skills, and Employability Skills.

We know you’re in the midst of carefully crafting Transition IEPs for each of your students. The INSTRC team has updated its Transition IEP Compliance Checklist (formerly referred to as the requirements list) so that you can be sure your t’s are crossed and your i’s are dotted—or, in our language, your annual goals are measurable, your postsecondary goals are updated annually, and those goals are based on age-appropriate transition assessments.

Download, print, and check out the new checklist: Indiana Transition IEP Compliance Checklist

We’ve also uploaded the Transition IEP Compliance Checklist to the INSTRC website, so you can always find it by just typing “checklist” into the Resource Search or clicking the “Transition IEP” topic filter and scrolling through the results.

Ever wonder how your former students are doing? Well, the Indiana Department of Education, Office of Special Education does! On behalf of IDOE, the Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC), will be contacting your students one year after they exit school. To do so, we need your help. For students who are exiting school this year:

  1. Please make sure your student’s contact information is accurate and up to date in the Summary of Performance section of Indiana IEP. When old and incorrect phone numbers, email addresses, or home addresses are in Indiana IEP, it makes it challenging for us to contact your former students to learn about their education, training, and employment experiences since leaving school.
  2. Teachers of Record, please remember to provide students and families with the Indicator 14 Letter with their exit IEP. You can find and download the Indicator 14 Letter in the Summary of Performance section of Indiana IEP. If the letter did not go out with the exit IEP, please send it to students and families now, before the school year ends. This letter will let students and families know they will be contacted by us a year after the student exits school.
  3. Help students and families sign up for the What’s Next? monthly newsletter, which contains resources and information about connecting to employers, finding supports, taking college classes or training, and identifying agencies and organizations that support young adults and families in the transition from school to adult life.

For more information about the What’s Next? monthly newsletter and the post-school outcomes report from last year, see Discovering What’s Next? on the CCLC website.


Reminders: Our next Transition Talk at High Noon takes place tomorrow, April 7. Join us as we talk with Michelle Oja from the Indiana Department of Education Office of Special Education about data collection and the IEP monitoring process. You don’t need to register. Find the link to connect on the Training page of the INSTRC website (scroll down a bit).

Transition Portfolio Office Hours also begin tomorrow at 2:30 p.m., Eastern Time. Zoom with us. Find the link on the INSTRC webpage.

We’ve added a new assessment to the INSTRC Transition Assessment Matrix. Our thanks to Ryan Thompson from Adams Wells Special Services Co-op for his help creating this one. The assessment, an “Inventory of Entrepreneurial Interests” works well for students from Amish communities in northeast Indiana, but it should also work well for students who are interested in developing skills that could be valued in communities throughout the state.

The assessment lists 25 different areas of interest, from baking and buggy wheel repair to tailoring and woodworking. Some of these interests could lead to self-employment opportunities. For more self-employment information and resources, see the self-employment resource page on the Center on Community Living and Careers’ website.

Send us an email at instrc@indiana.edu to let us know if the new assessment is helpful for your students, or let us know if there are other skills you would like to see added to the list. We’ll update the inventory as needed.


Reminder: Next week, Wednesday, April 7, you have two opportunities to connect with INSTRC staff. Drop in (virtually) for Transition Portfolio Office Hours from 2:30-4:30 p.m., Eastern Time, or join us for our monthly Transition Talk at High Noon, Eastern Time. For more information, visit the INSTRC Training and Transition Portfolio Office Hours pages on the INSTRC website. 

Watch your inbox! In the coming weeks, we’ll be sending you information about Indiana’s statewide virtual transition conference, coming up this summer. The three-day conference, “Facing the Future Together,” takes place July 21-23 and will feature national keynote speakers as well as breakout sessions for teachers, young adults and family members, community employment providers, VR counselors, and other professionals supporting transition students.

Topics proposed by panelists and presenters include assistive tech apps and tools; self-determination; benefits; transition strategies for blind and low-vision students; neurodiversity; sexual health for young adults with disabilities; work-based learning experiences; career-technical education; postsecondary education opportunities; and more.

This year, the annual conference for Indiana Cadres of Transition Leaders, usually offered each spring, will be held in conjunction with the July 21-23 transition conference.

More on speakers coming soon. Registration materials will land in your inbox in early May. Please share this information with your transitioning students and families!

Hundreds of Indiana secondary educators participated in our five Transition Portfolio Training modules this month. Now that we’ve gone through the steps and showed you some examples, we want to follow-up to hear how it’s going and to help you work through your individual issues.

Starting next month, INSTRC will be taking your questions during weekly Transition Portfolio Office Hours. You can come and go with a question or just pop in to hear and learn from others. Beginning April 7, join us:

Office Hours
Wednesdays, 2:30-4:30 p.m.,Eastern Time

Find us on Zoom at: https://iu.zoom.us/j/81411235100

You do not need to register for Transition Portfolio Office Hours. Just drop in with your questions. There will be a Zoom waiting room; the host will let you in.

Bonus Tip: Keep in mind, INSTRC now offers technical assistance via two types of office hours. In addition to Transition Portfolio Office Hours, we’ve established Open Office Hours on Thursdays, from 3-5 p.m., Eastern Time, to answer your questions about transition and the Transition IEP. We’ve got you covered Wednesdays and Thursdays. Zoom in!