Tips & Tools

All Tuesday Tips

Today marks the last Tuesday’s Transition Tips for the 2021–22 school year. Thanks for all you’ve done to support our state’s transitioning students and their families!

We know how hard you work to keep up with what seems like a never-ending list of tasks. From providing transition assessments to appropriate postsecondary goals to clarifying transition services and activities—for each student you serve, we hope you have felt our desire to assist you!

Though you’ll not receive a Tuesday’s Tip for a few months, we encourage both new and experienced educators to peruse our repository of transition resources at your leisure during the break. 

For your summer enjoyment, check out the following:

But most of all, take some time to rest, relax, and rejuvenate yourselves this summer.

Your INSTRC Team
Cathlene, Mike, Mary, Brady, Cecilia, Sandy, and Judith

Bonus Tip
We're hiring! The Center on Community Living and Careers is seeking a Research Associate to help with our Indiana Department of Education contracts to conduct training, technical assistance, and evaluation, and manage relationships with stakeholders across the state. If you're interested or know someone who might be, please follow this link to learn more and apply.

Between 2019–2020, 17,298 Indiana students experienced homelessness of some form (National Center for Homeless Education, 2022). These numbers include 3,112 students with disabilities and refer to many forms of homelessness: from students temporarily having to live in a motel or the family car to students whose family lives on the streets or in a shelter. Being homeless can also include a child who lives with relatives or friends without any plan of obtaining permanent housing.

Students who are homeless have difficulty fulfilling basic needs, such as regular meal access, clean clothing appropriate for school and the season, school supplies, proper hygiene, access to medical care and medications, social services, banking for the family, or gas for transportation. Homeless children are also less able to avoid dangerous situations and unsupportive circumstances and are less likely to stay in safe environments free from abuse (Litchman, 2021).

Because of these difficulties, all public schools must follow the McKinney-Vento Act (MVA), which provides specific services and assistance for students experiencing homelessness. The MVA enables students to attend their school of origin or the school nearest where they temporarily reside and to enroll without scholastic, medical, or similar records. The MVA also provides transportation to school, even if the school of origin is outside the current district.
Perhaps most importantly, the MVA guarantees a student will receive all services provided through the public school. This means that students who are receiving special education via the IDEA 2004 act, or protection from Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, will continue to receive these services, despite being homeless.
Indiana also has non-profit agencies that aid homeless students. It is important for educators to know about the rights of students who are homeless, the trauma that students can experience because of homelessness, and the assistance these students may need. Be ready to support and assist students so they can find school to be a safe, stable, secure place.
Some takeaway tips for teachers working with homeless students with disabilities:

  • Be familiar with the laws protecting these student’s educational rights.
  • Work to be the stable part of that student’s life by providing a safe learning environment.
  • Work with school counselors, social workers, and staff to ensure students’ needs are met.
  • Maintain the student’s confidentiality about their living situation.


McKinney-Vento Act: Homeless Children and Youth Program

Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention 

Stopover Youth Shelter and Support

Indiana Runaway and Homeless Youth Grantees

Indiana Youth Institute Data brief about Youth Homelessness in Indiana 

If all students need support as they leave school and move on to adult life, then students who are in foster care need extra support. Unfortunately, they have not always received this care and too often this has led to undesirable outcomes.

Luckily, many states have created initiatives for students in foster care who are transitioning into adulthood. Indiana’s programs provide financial and personal resources, employment and postsecondary education guidance, and access to adult mentors. Mentors are especially important because they can meet with the student regularly and provide listening ears, a way to get questions answered, and good examples of how to succeed as an adult.

Check out the websites below to find more information about these initiatives in Indiana. Also included is a toolkit for students in foster care, created by the U.S. Department of Education. Becoming familiar with these resources can help your transitioning students obtain success!


  • Foster Club of Indiana
    Filling the gap for Hoosier youth who lack a peer support group and need information to navigate the foster care system.
  • Foster Care Transition Toolkit
    A U.S. Department of Education guide to help youth access the resources needed tosuccessfully transition into adulthood, continue to postsecondary education, and develop meaningful careers.
  • Indiana Older Youth Initiatives
    Managed by the Indiana Department of Child Services, Older Youth Initiatives assist youth up to age 23 make the transition to self-sufficiency.
  • Youth Connections Program
    Youth-driven program dedicated to connecting youngsters with caring adults who can provide guidance and support.

Reminder: Join us tomorrow for our monthly Transition Talk at High Noon. Cathlene Hardy Hansen and the crew will be chatting about IEP Annual Behavior Goals.

For more information and the Zoom link, see our Transition IEP Training and Support page.

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center has redesigned the Transition Miniseries so that busy educators like you can access transition information when you are most available to learn it. The updated Transition Miniseries covers topics that are important to transition educators, such as:

  • Course 9—Adult Services and Supports after High School 
    Examine adult agencies and resources that help support students in the transition years and beyond. 
  • Course 10—Transition Portfolios
    Explore transition portfolio basics, including their importance, relevance, and usefulness.
  • Course 11—Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice in Transition to Adulthood 
    Learn how to incorporate diversity awareness in your transition education plans.
  • Course 12—Transition Programs for Transition-Age Youth 
    Discuss considerations for developing and maintaining programs for students 18–22.

The Transition Miniseries is free of charge and completely self-paced: Start and finish on a schedule that works for you. INSTRC will award certificates upon completion that are worth up to 21 contact hours toward Professional Growth Points.

For more information about the Transition Miniseries, stop by our open Office Hours on Thursdays from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. or drop us a line at

Access the INSTRC Transition Miniseries here.

Bonus Tip: 
Help us welcome Ian Ragains, our new Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) Special Education Specialist! He is a new member of the Indiana Office of Special Education and primarily will be supporting districts on matters related to Indicators 13 and 14. He is excited to begin working with Indiana teachers and administrators to support students as they transition to adult life. You can reach him at

Prior to joining the IDOE, Ian was a district manager with the Bureau of Developmental Disabilities Services. He is a graduate of Hanover College and currently lives in Noblesville, Indiana with his spouse and too many cats. When not at work, he keeps busy kayaking, fishing, and working in various roles with the Tipton Community Theatre. 

We know it can be difficult for educators to find the time to get the training and knowledge they need to stay up to date on teaching trends and strategies. If this sounds like your life, then you’re in luck!

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center has redesigned the Transition Miniseries so that busy educators like you can access transition information when you are most available to learn it.

In this newly expanded set of courses, you will find modules that focus on the Transition IEP, such as:

  • Course 4—Transition IEP: Present Levels of Function Performance
    Information and direction about the section that guides the rest of the IEP, the present levels, and progress monitoring.
  • Course 5—Transition IEP: Transition Assessments and Postsecondary Goals
    Information about the section of the IEP that helps guide the student to what they want to do about their education, employment, and independent living after high school.
  • Course 6—Transition IEP: Transition Services and Activities
    Information about a sometimes-misunderstood section of the IEP that should include specific activities that enable the student to make decisions about each of their postsecondary goals.
  • Course 7—Transition IEP: Annual Goals
    Information about how to write quality annual goal statements that are both skill-based and measurable.

The Transition Miniseries is free of charge and completely self-paced—start and finish on a schedule that works for you. INSTRC will award a certificate upon completion for up to 21 contact hours that can be used toward professional growth points.

For more information about the Transition Miniseries, stop by our open Office Hours on Thursdays from 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. or drop us a line at

Access the INSTRC Transition Miniseries here.

We are proud to announce the return of the Transition Miniseries. Formerly known as the Transition IEP Miniseries, the Transition Miniseries includes new courses to provide additional quality information about transition education.

Whether you’re new to the field or just want a refresher, the Miniseries will help you become more familiar with the components of the cyclical planning process and support you as you create quality Transition IEPs with your students.

Here’s a rundown of the courses in the Miniseries:

  1. Transition Miniseries Introduction
  2. Student Involvement
  3. Transition IEP: Introduction
  4. Transition IEP: Present Levels of Function Performance
  5. Transition IEP: Transition Assessments and Postsecondary Goals
  6. Transition IEP: Transition Services and Activities
  7. Transition IEP: Annual Goals
  8. Transition IEP: Alignment/Conclusion
  9. Diversity and Inclusion in Transition
  10. Transition Portfolios
  11. Transition Programs within Schools
  12. Adult Services
  13. Transition Miniseries Conclusion and Resources

The Miniseries runs year-round with no time limit or expiration date. INSTRC awards a certificate of completion to participants documenting course contact hours, redeemable for up to 21 Professional Growth Points.

Whether you’re new to the field or a seasoned teacher or administrator looking for a refresher—we designed this course with you in mind.

To access the Transition Miniseries, go to this link and sign up today!

Would you like transition lessons that teach your students self-determination skills? If so, then check out the Student-Directed Transition Planning course from the Zarrow Institute on Transition and Self-Determination.

This free course is a series of eight lessons that follow the Student-Directed Summary of Performance methodology (Martin et al., 2007) to help your students process transition information.

The lessons are invaluable for helping students understand the importance of the transition to adulthood. Students will learn concepts such as Self-Awareness, Timeline for Transition, Employment Needs and Strengths, Requesting Accommodations, among others. What’s more, the course will teach them the self-determination skills that will enable them to gain independence as they get older.

Each lesson includes a Power Point presentation, teacher's guide, and lesson activities. The series takes approximately 15 hours and is available for non-profit use without charge.

For more information about the series, visit the Zarrow Institute website.

Reminder: Join us tomorrow for our monthly Transition Talk at High Noon. Cathlene Hardy Hansen and the crew will be chatting about IEP Annual Math Goals.

For more information and the Zoom link, refer to our Transition IEP Training and Support page.

Bullying is a type of youth violence disproportionately affecting students with disabilities. The good news is that we can bring it to an end.

The Problem
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bullying includes “unwanted aggressive behavior by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners.” It involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is very likely to be repeated. Its harms take many forms, such as:

  • physical (hitting, tripping),
  • verbal (name calling, teasing), and
  • social (spreading rumors, leaving out of group).

Bullying can happen anywhere: in person, electronically (i.e., “cyberbullying”), at school, or in other settings.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports that 20.2 % of students with disabilities ages 12 through 18 experienced bullying in the 2016–17 school year. Students with disabilities are more likely to be victims of sustained bullying, Rose (2016) finds. Compared with their non-disabled peers, says Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center, students with disabilities are more worried about school safety and warned twice as often to not tattle when reporting bullying.


  • explains the deep and pervasive harm not only for victims, but also for bystanders and the persons who bully as well. They provide examples of school-wide approaches to increase empathy, implement trauma-informed practices, and foster social-emotional learning. Read their fact sheet to learn about incorporating mindfulness practices, facilitating circle discussions, and initiating restorative justice programs.
  • Rose (2016) recommends that students with disabilities should receive direct instruction in social and communication skills to buffer these adverse experiences.
  • The Indiana Department of Education has a variety of bullying prevention resources for teachers, students, and administration such as student brochures, sample announcements, and curricula.

With a comprehensive approach, we can stop bullying. We need to continue to use and develop resources to address this societal challenge at all levels by implementing intervention and prevention programs to keep schools safe for all.

Bonus Tip:
On April 6, 7, and 8, 2022, join the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center for online Transition Portfolio Training sessions. Part of our Spring 2022 webinar series, these no-cost sessions run twice daily and offer an introduction to transition portfolio examples, a demonstration of preferred/required section content, and a guided tour of each portfolio format.

Whether you've created many transition portfolios or this your first rodeo, this free training series has something for everyone. Seats are still available—register today!

The annual Capacity Building Institute (CBI) of Indiana’s Cadres of Transition Educators returns this spring. Back by popular demand, and again held virtually, the CBI kicks off at 8:00 a.m. on April 27.

Capacity Building Institute

April 27, 2022

8:00 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

Paralympian Hope Bevilhymer will deliver the keynote address. Other topics and presenters included in the 2022 Capacity Building Institute are:

  • The state of the Indiana Department of Education—featuring Nancy Holsapple, Indiana Director of Special Education
  • The state of Vocational Rehabilitation—featuring Jonathon Kraeszig, director of Youth Services for Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Accessible, Useful Transition Assessments—featuring Amanda Crecelius from PATINS
  • Customized Employment—featuring Sandy Block from the Center on Community Living and Careers
  • Creating Useful Transition Services—featuring Mary Pearson from the Center on Community Living and Careers

We invite all transition-focused special educators to attend the free event to network and take part in informative break-out sessions. 

Sign up for CBI today!  

Bonus Tip:
To keep you abreast of the latest trends in special education and help you fill out your year-end IEP reports accurately and efficiently, we are offering a free Indicator 14 training webinar. 

Your accurate year-end reporting means the DOE receives fuller post-school outcomes data when conducting federal needs assessments. Make sure your students are served and that their voices are heard. 

Enroll today for the free Indicator 14 training.

Meet Nick. He is a young man who owns a lawn mowing business and could not have met his career goal without driving. Check out this video about technology that enabled him to drive. 

From test-taking barriers due to a learning or cognitive disability to the need for vehicle modifications to accommodate a physical disability, students may need assistance unavailable at a typical driving school. Here are some supports to help students with disabilities learn to drive.
The Written Knowledge Test
The Bureau of Motor Vehicles can provide accommodations for the written test. A student or their representative must present that request in advance in person at the local BMV office. The BMV will then schedule an appointment for the test with the needed accommodation. 

Some examples are having the test read aloud, taking a paper test rather than a computer test, or taking the test in a quiet room. The BMV also provides testing in American Sign Language for the Deaf through a program initiated by Easterseals Crossroads. 

More Comprehensive Driving Assistance
For students who require more comprehensive assistance to drive, Vocational Rehabilitation may be able to help. (Read more about how students can apply to VR.) VR helps participants who must drive to obtain their job goal but have disabilities that present barriers to driving. For example, a Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist contracted by VR could help students who need driver evaluation and training for: 

  • special bioptic lenses due to a vision impairment,
  • vehicle modifications because of a physical disability, and/or
  • driving restrictions due to a learning, intellectual, or developmental disability.

We know driving is a rite of passage that many high school students experience. Students with disabilities can too, with the right assistance.

Bonus Tip
On April 27, 2022, join INSTRC for the annual Capacity Building Institute. The all-day virtual session will feature a keynote address by Paralympian Hope Bevilhymer and updates on what's new in 2022 for the Indiana Department of Education and Vocational Rehabilitation. All transition-focused special educators are invited to the free event to network and take part in informative break-out sessions.

Sign up for CBI today!  

Pre-Employment Transition Services (Pre-ETS) and Vocational Rehabilitation (VR) are two of the strongest tools in the special education professional’s toolbox. Let’s see how these programs can help your students.

What is Pre-ETS? 
Pre-ETS helps students with disabilities by providing services such as job exploration, work-based learning, workplace readiness, self-advocacy instruction, and info about postsecondary training options. VR funds Pre-ETS, as a supplement to what a school provides.
Any student from 14–22 years old with an IEP or 504 plan can receive help from Pre-ETS, whether or not they have applied for or been found eligible for VR services. The services offered by Pre-ETS are available in all Indiana counties; review this listing to see which provider offers services in your school.
 . . . but don’t stop there!
What are VR services?
While Pre-ETS provides a needed start in the transition to adulthood, students with disabilities should also apply for VR services. Why? Because VR can provide many individualized services for students after high school, including:

  • vocational guidance and counseling,
  • job placement assistance,
  • job training,
  • tutors and note-takers, and
  • rehabilitation technology.

These are just a few examples; VR allocates services based on individual need. With student/guardian permission, teachers can help students access VR services by:

  1. inviting the VR counselor to the student’s case conference their junior and senior years,
  2. referring the student for VR services no later than the last semester of their exit year, and
  3. ensuring students apply as a part of their IEP Transition Services and Activities or as a part of their Pre-ETS services before exiting high school.

Refer any student to VR who you think might benefit. It is up to VR to determine whether they are eligible and what services they will receive.

Working with Indiana VR video

Working with Indiana VR Fact Sheets in English and Spanish

Local VR Offices Directory

Listing of Pre-ETS Providers by County

Have you ever had a question about something related to transition to adulthood, but needed only a quick answer, not a full training seminar? Me too! The Transition Coalition has just what you’re looking for.

Sponsored by the University of Kansas in partnership with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, their website includes a searchable database where educators post quick transition-related tips. Each tip can be rated so you know which tips your peers thought really hit the mark. The database includes hundreds of user-submitted and rated tips, such as:

There are many more to choose from and opportunities for you to submit tips as well. You can find the Transition Coalition’s Transition Tips database here.

Happy Hunting!

Many changes come when a child turns 18. The door opens to independence, rights, and responsibilities, and if they have been receiving disability benefits from the Social Security Administration, they must soon undergo the Age 18 Redetermination process.

The SSA requires children eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits to undergo a full disability redetermination before age 19. SSA schedules an appointment with the student to conduct the redetermination which will determine if the student remains eligible for benefits. If so, SSA will then classify the student as an adult and they will then begin receiving benefits on their own record through SSA.

The Age 18 Redetermination process is the first time the SSA applies the adult SSI disability definition, and they treat the case like a new disability benefits application. The evaluation assesses whether the individual’s impairment(s) meets or equals any of the adult criteria, and, if not, whether they can perform work at a substantial level.

If the child received Medicaid or Medicaid waiver services before age 18, they must complete the Age 18 Redetermination process and apply for SSI benefits to maintain that coverage as an adult. The adult standard is more stringent, and some may not qualify. On the other hand, some who were not previously eligible under their parents’ care or income standards may now be eligible.

For a young adult who is determined no longer eligible for SSI following the Age 18 Redetermination process, the Section 301 provision allows continuation of disability or statutory blindness benefits until the conditions have medically improved while they are participating in a program of vocational rehabilitation, employment, or other support services.

Once SSA approves redetermination, the young adult steps toward independence and can begin receiving benefits based on their own situation, needs, and disability records.


Students in Transition SSI After 18 Fact Sheet

What You Need to Know About Your Supplemental Security Income (SSI) When You Turn 18

Education professionals treasure the tools and resources that help their students with disabilities access information. Initiatives like the PATINS Project provide accessible materials and assistive technology (AT) for students—key to helping these students meet their potential.

But what about after high school? Here are a few AT resources to offer your transitioning adults.

Hosted by Easterseals Crossroads in Indianapolis, INDATA increases freedom by helping people of all ages and abilities acquire AT. INDATA is a storehouse of information, offering referrals, device demonstrations and loans, webinars on AT topics, and much more.

An employment services program designed for people with disabilities, VR helps adults who want to work and need AT (and other services) to obtain and maintain employment.

Be sure to refer students whose disabilities significantly impede their independence no later than the beginning of their last high school semester. Ideally, these conversations should begin in the initial transition case conferences. Early referral to VR will smooth their transition to postsecondary training and employment.

  • Colleges and universities also provide AT resources, typically at no cost.

Centers such as the Indiana University Assistive Technology & Accessibility Center or the Purdue Assistive Technology Center can offer loaner equipment, training, alternative format textbooks, and more. If a university does not have a dedicated AT center, contact their disability services office.

Bonus tip: Don’t miss INDATA’s podcasts, daily blog, and their popular Tech Tips video series —free services for anyone wanting to know more about the wonderful world of assistive tech!

Have you ever wondered how Valentine’s Day began? Accounts vary, but Saint Valentine of Terni reportedly sent a letter to a woman he admired, signed, “From your Valentine.” Other historians connect mid-February to Lupercalia, a Roman fertility festival. Regardless of the disputed origins, many think of Valentine’s Day as a time to send friends and lovers reminders of their affection.

Fast forward to the 2022 classroom: Teachers receive flower bouquets; decorations are abundant; candy is everywhere. Some students get special attention from their romantic interests via public displays of affection, cards, gifts, and more.

Now consider a non-romantically attached student, already experiencing the developmental tumult and struggle common among teens. Imagine a day where, at every turn, you face reminders of how different you are. What can an educational professional do to alleviate some of the pain inadvertently doled out to many students on February 14?


  • Remind students there are many people who feel lonely—it’s okay to feel sad.
  • Encourage students to think about how they can treat themselves. Watch a favorite movie, take a bike ride, make a pizza. It’s okay to shower yourself with attention!
  • Dedicate a time to gather with close friends. Loneliness can be eased when students surround themselves with friends. Remember, romantic love is NOT the only kind of love!
  • Commit a random act of kindness. This will provide a gift to others and take focus away from feelings of loneliness.
  • Encourage a student to journal positive self-talk. If they don’t remember why they are special, remind them!
  • Avoid social media. It will be rife with couples’ activities and posts.
  • Remind students this is simply another day and it, too, shall pass.


American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Resources for Youth.

Anxiety & Depression Association of America, Indiana Telemental Health Providers.

Erika’s Lighthouse

“Helps teachers to empower their students with an introduction to mental health, depression-literacy, help-seeking and what it takes to promote good mental health.”

HEARD Alliance

Resources for educators, including a Classroom Mental Health Toolkit for High School.

National Institute on Mental Health

Offers information specifically addressing teenage depression.

“I want to be a crane operator after I graduate!”

Terrific, you will have lots of industries and opportunities to choose from.

“I want to be a nurse after I graduate!”

Fantastic, let’s think more about how to get the education you will need.

“I’m not sure what I want to do after I leave high school.”

That’s okay; let’s start with what you DO know about yourself!

“I want to be my own boss after I leave high school. Maybe start an insect control business.”

Perfect, self-employment might be a good fit. Let’s explore that!

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are currently more than 10,000 self-employed individuals in Indiana. Stay in education long enough and you will inevitably encounter a student determined to use a self-employment strategy to forge their career pathway. Watch out, it’s coming your way!

Self-employment resources and supports are available in abundance across Indiana and the U.S. If you are working with a student who is considering self-employment, you will find several helpful links below. Transition IEP services, activities, and assessments for this student can be also gleaned using these resources. As the saying goes, “use them or lose them.” We hope you use them.


Information and a variety of classroom resources for teachers and pre-ETS providers supporting students interested in self-employment.

Describes entrepreneurship education and offers suggestions for how to introduce self-employment as an option, including for youth with disabilities.

An A–Z list of resources to be used as transition assessments, services, or activities!

Who-to-call for self-employment information and supports.

Information from the national Special Needs Alliance.

Reminder: Join us tomorrow for the next Transition Talk at High Noon. We’ll be chatting with team members of the Center on Community Living and Careers about Postsecondary goals.

For more information and the Zoom link, see our Transition IEP Training and Support page.

In early January, we shared a Tuesday’s Tip titled “Behavioral Resources.” Were you able to snuggle up on a recliner and go through those resources? If not, here is the link again.

Have you ever wondered about the purpose of a challenging behavior, or any behavior for that matter? Experts agree behavior has four primary purposes:

  • Access to attention
  • Access to tangible items or preferred activities.
  • Escape or avoidance of demands and activities.
  • Sensory stimulation

David Pitonyak is a behavioral specialist and director of the consulting practice Imagine. He has dedicated his career to understanding and supporting people who exhibit so-called “difficult behaviors.” According to Pitonyak, “suppressing behavior without understanding something about the life the person is living is disrespectful and counterproductive. Difficult behaviors are a reflection of unmet needs. They are meaning-full. Our challenge is to find out what the person needs so that we can be more supportive.”

Pitonyak’s work is full of these insights. We encourage you to peruse his many resources as well as the others listed below—you will be profoundly impacted!

Print Resources

All Behavior is Meaning-full
Importance of Belonging
Notes for Parents
Ten Things You Can Do to Support a Person with Difficult Behaviors

Video Resources

How PBIS Can Prevent Problem Behavior at Your School
Lunch and Learn: Why on Earth Does My Child Do That?
Rethinking Challenging Kids—Where There’s a Skill There’s a Way
The Power of a Teacher

Coping with change can be challenging. Often, when there is no time to prepare, we’re filled with anxiety. For example, many Indiana teachers had to transport their classrooms to a virtual setting due to precautions related to COVID-19. For educators and students, navigating the fluctuating demands of the pandemic has meant even more change, such as flexible schedules and hybrid learning options.

Seven Ways to Cope with Uncertainty,” from the Greater Good Science Center is a timely resource to help your students (and maybe you too!) who suffer from anxiety when life feels out of control. Here are a few of their suggestions for managing student anxiety:

  • Don’t resist: Resisting amplifies problems; accepting lets us see the reality of the situation while finding solutions.
  • Invest in yourself: “When we underinvest in our bodies, minds, or spirits, we destroy our most essential tools for leading our best lives.”
  • Don’t believe everything you think: Expecting the worst can be a self-fulfilling prophecy rather than an opportunity to creatively respond.
  • Pay Attention: Be aware of your emotions and control what you pay attention to. Don’t let alerts, social media, or yet another schedule change hijack your awareness and sense of presence.
  • Find meaning in the chaos: Finding meaning in any crisis helps us create our sense of purpose, and we become part of a personal and collective solution.

“When we change the way we look at things, the things we look at change,” noted the late motivational speaker Wayne Dyer. When we find a way to reframe our challenges as opportunities, we all become resilient researchers of our own lives and can better help our students manage change when it comes their way—as it surely will.

Bonus Tip:

On February 22, 23, 24; and March 1, 2, 3, you are invited to come learn all about local, state, and federal resources supporting young adults with disabilities who want to work in their communities. Families, transition-age students and young adults with disabilities, and the professionals who support them are welcome to attend the six free virtual training sessions.

To learn more and to register for these free sessions, visit the Family Employment Awareness Training web page.

Teens and young adults with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) experience unwanted, invasive thoughts that can disrupt their lives. It’s important to know that, especially in adolescence, the obsessions and compulsions can morph over time.

Intrusive thoughts about religion, sex, grades, social status, hygiene, and now a pandemic can cause teens with OCD to lose focus in the classroom, make repeated trips to the bathroom, be late to class, miss assignments, ask constant questions, or seek reassurance or “guarantees” from friends or teachers.

Too often students feel overwhelming shame and guilt over their obsessions and compulsions and are so embarrassed they will not share their concerns or ask for help with managing their OCD. Note that sometimes OCD can occur simultaneously with other conditions, like depression, autism, attention deficit disorder, tics, panic attacks, or anxiety.

Things you can do:

  • Suggest a meeting with the student and those who support the student if you’re seeing behaviors that concern you.
  • If the student is diagnosed and has disclosed their OCD, ask the family if it’s appropriate for you to continue to reassure the student about an obsession.
  • Consult with the school behavioral therapist if you and your student need a plan to reduce the number of questions asked during class. Enlist the student in setting goals, so that they feel in control.
  • Boost student self-esteem and watch for bullying or ostracization.
  • Discuss necessary accommodations such as extra time for assignments or tests.

For more information, see Five Things to Understand About Teens and OCD.



Calling all educators who contend with student behavioral challenges!

What is that you say? You’re at your wits end? Never fear, Tuesday’s Transition Tip is here!

As we find ourselves contending with a pandemic, disrupted schedules, technology dependence, a widening socio-economic gap, and the ordinary developmental challenges most youth experience, it’s no surprise that students experience a wide array of behavioral problems. As an educator, addressing these challenges requires a savvy toolkit with a mix of successful strategies, content-specific knowledge, trust, and a good dose of intuitive persistence.

Here are a handful of useful resources specifically designed to disrupt problematic behaviors, understand the meaning behind those behaviors, and to teach replacement strategies. Please take the time to study each resource. Perhaps you have a free Friday evening and a recliner? Snuggle up with these assets and get ready for a fresh start to the next school day.

Hang in there! As the late Jimmy Valvano would say, “Never give up. Don’t ever give up!” Cloaked in the folds of problematic behavior is a student who needs you.

Center for Parent Information and Resources. (A virtual clearing-house of interventions, articles, strategies, tests, legal resources, and much more on the Behavior suite of this user-centered information hub.)

Indiana Resource Center for Autism. (Yes, this is for EVERYONE!) This section includes a wide variety of visual supports on topics such as anger management, grief, the Incredible 5 Point Scale, and a social narrative about winning and losing games.

Intervention Central (some clever ways to short circuit problem behaviors and still reach Common Core goals.)

Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (PBIS). (The PBIS framework is a proactive, preventive approach to behavior management in schools. Dig deep into this one and think about joining their mailing list!)

Teacher Vision. (A plethora of printables and articles from veteran educators to help you manage classroom discipline.)

Reminder: Join us tomorrow, January 5, for the next Transition Talk at High Noon. We’ll be chatting with and learning from team members from the Center on Community Living and Careers.

For more information and the Zoom link, see our Transition IEP Training and Support page.

Q: What is a creative transition activity?

A: A means for students to find or confirm their chosen postsecondary path.

Creative transition activities are created specifically with the student’s goals in mind. Typically, the creative team (e.g., student, parents, teachers, family friends, outside agencies, community organizations) crafts the activities with oversight from school personnel.

Here are a few common and creative activities for students in transition.

INDEPENDENCE—experience life in the community

  • Practice the skills of budgeting
  • Following a shopping list for self or others
  • Practice accessing public transportation
  • Visit possible living options

EMPLOYMENT— experience career choices

  • Job shadowing
    • In person or virtually
  • Internship
    • Tried-and-true or blaze a new trail
  • Interview
    • On the phone with someone in the field
    • Record video for review

EDUCATION—experience postsecondary education environment

  • Shadow a college student for a day
  • Research colleges
    • Online investigation
    • Interview advisors or current students
  • Visit educational programs that are a possible match
    • In person or virtually

Finding the best activities that are directly related to a student’s goals requires some investigation well before the case conference. For more ideas, check out our Transition Services and Activities: Making the Connection for more ideas.

Happy Holidays!

Tuesday’s Transition Tips will return January 4. We wish you peace, precious moments with family and friends, the excitement and promise of little ones, cozy naps, marshmallows in hot cocoa, and all the joys the season can bring!

Stay warm and safe, everyone!

Having employment experiences before exiting high school is one of the main predictors of long-term employment success. One type of employment experience is job shadowing, which is when a student observes a job. This is a beneficial learning opportunity for many students that allows them to explore a career.

Job shadowing traditionally occurs when a student observes a job in person, but there are alternative ways a student can shadow a job.

For instance, Career One Stop offers many career-assistance resources such as a skills matcher that lists possible jobs that connect to a person’s skills. Career One Stop also offers an extensive list of career videos that enable users to learn about specific careers virtually.

You can find a huge selection of similar career videos over at Dr. Kit—a great way to let job seekers hear from someone that works in a specific field. On the Dr. Kit website, you can also find information about career clusters and lists of career options related to each field.

Another no-cost resource with virtual job shadowing experiences is over at Forage. Job shadowing opportunities on this site start at two hours in length. These experiences are engaging and give the user a good understanding of the job.

In short, virtual job shadowing is great for students that may not have time for a job shadowing experience during their school day or if they are unable to be in the community.

Many colleges and universities now have postsecondary programs that emphasize incorporating students with significant disabilities into the college or university community and environments. Some of these programs are for degree-seeking students. Others are transition experience programs, offering students an opportunity to audit courses, interact with same-age peers, and/or work part-time on campus.

Think College recently developed a list of model accreditation standards that the nation’s postsecondary programs can use to improve or develop high quality programs for students with intellectual disabilities. Among the best practices included in the report:

  • Principles of True Inclusion—addresses whether students are able to live on campus with students without disabilities, participate in the same activities as everyone else, and attend classes with their typically developing peers.
  • Appropriate Supports—ensures that natural supports (from peers) are used as much as possible, rather than bringing someone from outside a typical class or living situation into that environment, who usually would not be there.
  • Person-Centered-Planning—ensures that students are involved in individualized planning for their academics, activities, employment, transportation, and living experiences.
  • Staff Training—requires that faculty and staff receive training on current research-based practices. This should include those who work directly within the college/university program, and those who will encounter and work with students in typical classes, when living in the dorms, and during activities. Trainings should ensure that faculty and staff have the expertise to ensure that students feel accepted, are taught using researched-based methods, and are provided appropriate accommodations.

See the complete list of standards at the link above. To see the list of postsecondary transition experiences and degree programs providing extra supports to students with disabilities in Indiana, visit the Center on Community Living and Careers’ Postsecondary Education webpage.

If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, then we are thankful for those who strengthen those links. At every step of the way, teachers like you support our students with disabilities, emboldening and enabling them to overcome their challenges and transition into a life of deep fulfillment.

For all you do—the tireless pursuit of solutions, the hope you impart, and the example you set for the rest of us—we are grateful and indebted to you.

We wish you a rejuvenating, relaxing, and joyous Thanksgiving break! Tuesday's Transition Tips will return November 30.

With gratitude, 

Your friends at the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC)

Consider this: Boats don’t sink because of the water around them; boats sink because of the water that gets into them. In some way or another, we all have water seeping in—physically and mentally!

Our mental health can be summarized as a sense of well-being and safety, an awareness that we all have positive abilities, we can cope with the typical stressors of life, we can be productive, and we can contribute. Unfortunately, our mental health tends to suffer during the holidays. The National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that 64% of individuals living with a mental illness felt that their conditions worsened around the holidays.

Students need your help, especially when so much is out of their control (e.g., poverty, divorce, pandemics). But while students need your help, they may not reach out to you. If they don’t, that’s okay—you can reach out to them! If your arms are too full, don’t worry, Indiana has you covered. The Indiana School Mental Health Initiative (ISMHI) works alongside school districts and their community partners. ISMHI provides “resources, consultation, professional development, and education that promotes and sustains the social, emotional, behavioral, mental, and physical health of Indiana’s school-aged children.”

For more information, check out these upcoming ISHMI events:

Patch that boat!

It’s that time of year when some of your students are either looking at their postsecondary education options or applying to colleges. The Indiana Center on Community Living and Careers (CCLC) has updated Is College for You? Setting Goals and Taking Action with a new look, new resources, and fresh links. (Don’t you hate those error messages?)

The guide features:

• tables for comparing college programs;
• a chart on the differences between expectations in high school and college;
• an extensive section on paying for college—the FAFSA, scholarships, loans, and grants;
• questions to ask the college disability service coordinator; and
• much, much more.

As your students and families begin planning for those next steps, share the link to Is College for You? with them. Spanish version coming soon!

This fall, the Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) team is offering Indiana families a new opportunity to participate in free interactive employment support training. Virtual FEAT is a series of six interactive sessions that will take place November 30, December 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9.

For the convenience of working families and their supporters, these free FEAT sessions are open twice each day, once at noon and again at 6 p.m. Training gives participants the chance to hear from employment service providers, Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation counselors, and young adults with disabilities who are now employed. Sessions focus on various aspects of transition and employment services, such as customized employment, networking, and benefits.

FEAT is sponsored by AWS Foundation.

Register Now!

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) now includes Spanish-language translations for each of our monthly issues of the What’s Next? newsletter. What’s Next? is a resource for students, young adults, and families in transition, and for teachers as well. Each issue focuses on a specific transition-related issue, such as job accommodations; Pre-ETS; or piecing together benefits, services, and support.

See past issues of What’s Next? and the Spanish translations (which begin with Issue No. 3) on the What’s Next? page of the INSTRC website. A QR code and a link on that same page will let you subscribe to the newsletter. Share the link with families!

And one more thing! Don’t forget that the INSTRC website also has a Resources in Spanish page, where you’ll find translations of some of our most popular resources. Find it under the Resource Collections tab.

El Centro de Recursos para la Transición Secundaria de Indiana (INSTRC por sus siglas en inglés) ahora incluye traducciones al español para cada una de nuestras ediciones mensuales del boletín What's Next?What’s Next es un recurso para estudiantes, jóvenes adultos, familias en transición, y también para maestros. Cada boletín se centra en un tema específico relacionado con la transición, como las acomodaciones en el trabajo; Pre-ETS; o aunar beneficios, servicios y apoyos.

Consulte las ediciones anteriores de What’s Next? y las traducciones al español (que comienzan con la edición número 3) en la página de What's Next?En el sitio web de INSTRC. Un código QR y un enlace en esa misma página le permitirán suscribirse al boletín. ¡Comparte el enlace con otras familias!

¡Y una cosa más! No olvide que el sitio web de INSTRC también tiene una página de Recursos en español, donde encontrará traducciones de algunos de nuestros recursos más populares. Puede encontrarlo en la ficha Colecciones de Recursos.

This fall, the Family Employment Awareness Training (FEAT) team is offering Indiana families a new opportunity to participate in free interactive employment support training. Virtual FEAT is a series of six interactive sessions that will take place November 30, December 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9.

For the convenience of working families and their supporters, these free FEAT sessions are open twice each day, once at noon and again at 6 p.m.

Register Now!

The Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) is combining the open office hours for Transition IEP and Transition Portfolio discussions. Have questions about things like assessments, that persnickety independent living goal, or how to match a student’s skillset with the right job? You can connect with us via Zoom on Thursdays from 2:30–4:30 p.m., Eastern Time, and we will be happy to talk through any questions you may have about Transition IEP or Transition Portfolio topics.

Pop in with any question or just listen in to your colleagues’ questions. You can find the Zoom link under Transition IEP and Portfolio Office Hours at the bottom of the INSTRC Transition Portfolio training page or on the Transition IEP Training and Support page.

Officially, National Disability Voter Registration Week was September 13-20. Did you miss it? Are you too late to teach your students with disabilities about their voting rights? Absolutely not! This is one of those “off” years in Indiana. That means there aren’t any scheduled elections in most of the state, so voter registration is open throughout 2021. If you have students turning 18, though, be sure to teach them now how to register and about the voting process.

For information about voting rights, check out Indiana’s Voter Registration webpage. Another suggestion: Via Zoom, have your County Clerk or Election Board Supervisor talk to students or demonstrate a polling place or how to vote by mail.

Often, parents and adult family members assume that individuals who are under guardianship are not allowed to vote. Please assure them that this isn’t true! The Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN) published Your Vote Counts, a state-by-state guide on the topic in 2019. You’ll find Indiana on p. 143.

Having a voice, and making it heard is as important as voting. Connect students with groups talking about issues they’re passionate about—ecology, voting rights, schools, civil rights, immigration. If you have students who want to learn more about issues affecting the disability community, have them check out The Arc national webpage on policy and advocacy.

Reminder: Join us tomorrow, October 6, for “Parent Perspectives: Inclusion for Young Adults.” This one-hour webinar, part of our Transition Talks at High Noon, features a chat with Anne Higley, one of our co-workers from the Center on Community Living and Careers, and the parent of two adults with autism. To connect at noon, find the Zoom link on the INSTRC Transition IEP training page and scroll down to Transition Talk at High Noon.

In the final installment of our series on what we learned during this summer’s statewide transition conference, we’re going to visit Mary Morningstar’s keynote presentation, “College and Career Readiness Requires Collaboration.” She focused on preparing youth with disabilities for college and career readiness, collaboration among key stakeholders in transition, and the roles and competencies of secondary educators, education administrators, and community systems. If you didn’t catch that presentation, we have a remedy!

Lesson 4: Your school team or pooled school teams might want to consider use of Morningstar’s book, Your Complete Guide to Transition Planning and Services, available through Brookes Publishing. The paperback and e-book both retail for $29.95. Buy it, share it, read it, repeat. Like the country song says, “Sunrise, sunburn, sunset, repeat.” But you won’t get burned with this purchase, in our humble opinion. This comprehensive book features permission to download, print, or photocopy an array of forms. With Morningstar’s advice and guidance, you might be able to take a few giant leaps toward quality transition implementation and content.

What does Nike say?....”Just do it!”

We’re at Week 3 of our series on things we learned from the fabulous presenters at this summer’s statewide transition conference.

Lesson 3: The regional Indiana Cadres of Transition Educators held their annual meeting during Facing the Future Together. As a part of that meeting, members of the Northeast Indiana Cadre presented the amusing, but instructive “Friday, Indicator 13th: Transition IEP Monitoring Doesn’t Have to Be a Nightmare.” Their point: Yes, our Transition IEPs need to be compliant with federal regulations, but creating a process now will help allay the heebie jeebies.

The three-year monitoring cycle includes 1) a year of “self-monitoring,” followed by 2) a proactive year, where schools can receive free technical assistance, and then 3) the monitoring year, when data is submitted to the federal government. Creating a plan of action is key, according to the Cadre presenters. They suggested the following:

  • Identify your Transition IEP team in your district.
  • Review your most recent Indicator 13 compliance report or your proactive monitoring report from the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC).
  • Review a sample of Transition IEPs from your district.
  • Identify your areas of greatest need.
  • Schedule training/coaching with collaborators (INSTRC, Indiana Department of Education, and the IEP Resource Center).
  • Plan for ongoing internal monitoring.

Stick to your plan during not only your self-monitoring year but every year. And a little plug from us: We continue to see that districts who use INSTRC’s proactive services consistently score better when they’re monitored. Directors and administrators, if you’re in your proactive monitoring year and are interested in support and services, email us: 

Our thanks to members of the Northeast Cadre, including Adams Wells Special Services Cooperative, Southwest Allen County Schools, Elkhart Community Schools, and the Northeast Special Education Cooperative.

Assorted Lessons Learned During July’s Facing the Future Transition Conference

This week we’re continuing our series on things-we-learned during this summer’s statewide transition conference, Facing the Future Together.

Lesson 2: In their presentation, “Adapting and Creating Transition Assessments for ALL Students,” our own Mike Nevins of the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC), and Amanda Crecelius from PATINS, explained how to use technology to create accessible assessments for students transitioning to employment, postsecondary education or training, and independent living.

After Nevins introduced various assessments currently available on the INSTRC Transition Matrix, Crecelius demonstrated how to adapt them. One example: She used the MOTE Google Chrome extension to add voice notes or explanations to an assessment she’d put into a Google Form. With MOTE you can now add an audio explanation to a question on a form and, brilliantly, students can reply using text or their own MOTE response. Check out this video for another look at how to use MOTE with Google Forms.

Need other suggestions or assistance for adapting assessments? Reach out to PATINS’ Amanda Crecelius at

Assorted Lessons Learned During July’s Facing the Future Transition Conference

We know you didn’t all have the chance to attend Facing the Future Together, our three-day statewide transition conference in July. You were hanging with the family, floating in the pool, walking the dog. And we know: Vacation is sacred. It’s okay. Each Tuesday in September we’re going to share a few lessons learned from the conference, with links to valuable info and resources.

Lesson 1: Brian Norton is The Man in Indiana for all things assistive technology, especially when that tech supports young adults in transition. Norton and his team at the Easterseals Crossroads INDATA Projectpresented a show and tell of apps and tools for everyday living and learning.

A few of our favorites:

  •—Free online software that simplifies confusing passages or text.
  • MicNotes—A free app that’s part audio recorder, part notepad, for better to-do lists, quick notes, brainstorm sessions, meeting notes, and lectures.
  • Switch Access—This free accessibility feature allows users with limited movement to control their Android phones using a switch. (Want to know more about switches? Try this Wikipedia article.)
  • Time Tracker Mini—Adjusting to the world of work? With red, yellow, and green lights as well as an alarm, this little timer can help individuals transition more easily from one task to another. Retails for around $25.

Contact INDATA  or Indiana Vocational Rehabilitation if you have an eligible transitioning student who wants to explore the possibilities.


Nearly half of Indiana students, parents, and teachers completing a recent survey said they didn’t know the difference between a high school diploma, a GED, and a Certificate of Completion. You’re probably thinking, “Wait, that can’t be true! How is that possible?” Less than half said they did not know what a Medicaid waiver is. Again, “Wait, how can that be?” Over 90 percent, though, said they have identified or are working on a career path for after high school, whether that’s going into a field of work or pursuing college. “Hip, hip, hurray! Now you’re talking! That feels more like we’re making progress and moving the needle in the right direction!”

Where's this data coming from? The transition committee of Indiana’s chapter of the Association of People Supporting Employment First (INAPSE) asked for a survey earlier this year. The Pre-Employment Transition Service (Pre-ETS) program staff at Stone Belt, a service provider in Bloomington, Indiana, completed that effort earlier this year.

Respondents included students receiving Pre-ETS, educators in local school districts, and parents. The survey results were both surprising and not-so-surprising. The 109 respondents answered questions on topics that included career pathways, long-term services, employment supports, and transition resources. Caution: Please have your cup of coffee before looking at the results from questions 5 and 8!

Now it’s our time to say, check it out! We invite you to spend time reviewing the survey. The content may assist you in planning lesson material throughout the year. You may be surprised by the knowledge gaps that apparently exist. You may also be surprised at what students say they want to learn more about! Hint, hint: Think jobs!


We run this tip at the beginning of every school year, so you can get acquainted with your regional Transition Cadres. Notice, though, that we’ve tweaked the name this year. It’s now the Indiana Cadres of Transition Educators. That’s because we want you to know that you’re welcome to join us-- whether you’re new to transition, a long-time pro at creating transition IEPs, or an administrator for your district.

Cadres build capacity across the state and address a variety of secondary transition needs. Members meet regularly (typically once a month or every other month) to discuss, plan, learn, and provide supports to their schools as well as to students and families.

Every Cadre has one or two facilitators along with a support person from the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center team. Cadres are also supported by the Indiana Department of Education.

Not sure which Cadre your school district is in? You’ll find a map of Cadre boundaries and a listing of the participating districts on the Cadre page of the INSTRC website. Send a hello to one of the facilitators below and learn more about meeting dates and activities.

Staff of the Indiana Secondary Transition Resource Center (INSTRC) recently updated, improved, and republished the Transition IEP Rubric and the Indiana Transition Compliance Checklist for Indicator 13 compliance. The latest versions will help those of you creating compliant and quality Transition IEPs for your students, and they’ll guide district and school administrators and coordinators who are monitoring Transition IEPs for federal compliance.

The Compliance Checklist is available as a text-only version that may be more accessible to screen reader users. It’s also available in a more visual chart format that allows you to indicate yes or no to the 10 questions and sub-questions posed in the checklist.
The Transition IEP Rubric is a more in-depth guide covering assessments, postsecondary goals, transition services and activities, annual goals, and more. Screenshots from the Indiana IEP (IIEP) explain where specific information should be entered in the online IIEP.

With this year’s Rubric we’ve included extensive appendices featuring examples and comparisons of 1) quality, compliant, and noncompliant transition services and activities, and 2) quality, compliant and noncompliant annual goals statements.

You can also find both documents anytime by searching for “Rubric” or “Checklist” on the INSTRC Resource Search page.


Registration is now open for virtual 2021 annual Transition IEP training for education teams overseeing the quality and compliance of Transition IEPs in Indiana districts or cooperatives. That includes special education directors and assistant directors, transition coordinators, department chairs, and teachers.

This year’s free training, Building the Future Together, will be offered four times, each in a day-long session: August 30, 31, September 1, and 2.

All sessions will include information on common IEP compliance issues, transition programming for 18-22 year-olds, and transition IEP changes coming your way! You can attend any of the sessions, but each will have a regional focus so that we can introduce the members and work of the regional Indiana Cadres of Transition Educators.

Register now by heading to the Building the Future Together training page and find out which regions will be featured during each training session.

We had link issues in last week’s tip! So here, for your repeated enjoyment, is the info you need for subscribing to Tuesday’s Transition Tips—with the right links in place!

Do you have newbie transition teachers and staff in your building or district? We want them to get all the news! Be sure to send them to the Tuesday’s Transition Tips webpage to subscribe. It’s fast; we promise! They’ll thank you!

Find us in your inbox every Tuesday. If you have questions, suggestions, or a request for INSTRC, email us at

And we’re back!

We hope you’ve all had a glorious summer. As you settle into your classrooms and gear up for the school year, we want you to know we’re here and we’ve got your back, transition-wise.

In case you have not met all of our Indiana Secondary Transition Resource (INSTRC) staff, here we are:

Our newest INSTRC team member, Mary Pearson, is joining us from the University of Kansas next week. You’ll be able to see Mary’s profile and contact information on our website as soon as she’s all set up.

Do you have newbie transition teachers and staff in your building or district? We want them to get all the news! Be sure to send them to the Tuesday’s Transition Tips webpageto subscribe. It’s fast; we promise! They’ll thank you!

Find us in your inbox every Tuesday. If you have questions, suggestions, or a request for INSTRC, email us at

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.

  • 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 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:

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!