Successful Student Transitions to a General Education Setting

The transition from a self-contained classroom to a general education setting is a huge milestone for the classroom team and the learner. It is something to celebrate! A learner who is going through this transition has gained skills and new independence. While students will have access to peers in the general education setting, adding mainstream minutes to an IEP or transitioning a student to full time general education is so much more. Depending on your learner, they may benefit from a slower transition rather than a quick one. In my experience, more learners have benefited from a transition that lasts about a month, although I have had a few learners who were more successful with a transition that was less than a week. In this blog post, I will share what has made my learner’s transition to general education smooth, for both a full change of placement as well as mainstream minutes.
The steps taken and the decision making progress is not something that should be taken lightly. Transitioning and adding mainstream minutes is something that takes planning and preparation for all involved. Below are some of the steps that I have taken when starting this! 

  • During team meetings, review the data with all related service team members on the learner’s team. Frequently discuss the idea of transitioning and review data together. This decision should be a team decision. 
  • Meet with the school principal and the special education coordinator to show data and supporting evidence for the transition. I also come prepared with a plan on how this will happen so that they can visualize the transition.
  • Meet with the family to present the transition plan and get in agreement with the plan.
  • Talk with the educational team that will be supporting the learner within the new placement. Provide professional development if needed. Be open minded and open to discussions with the new team addressing their questions and concerns. 
    • Some ideas to discuss might be competency, accessible instructional materials, assistive technology, positive behavior supports, belonging and social relationships, sensory supports, movement supports, emotional needs, environmental adaptations, the collaborative instructional support planning process, and grading.
  • Review the transition plan on when the transition will take place and a realistic timeline that is detailed so it is clear for all involved. 
  • Schedule team meetings that happen frequently (these may be brief due to everyone’s busy schedule) during the transition plan to review data and how the learner is functioning in the new placement. 
  • Decide who will be contacting the family during the transition and call to share how the move is going and what the next few days will look like.
Consistency is key for any learner within any environment, and the transition is no different. Anything the learner needs to be successful in all parts of the day should transition with them.
While these should be listed in a learner’s educational program or 504 plan, the team should make accommodations and modifications together. A few examples are: 

  • Communication 
  • Visuals
  • IEP goals 
  • Seating accommodations 
  • Sensory breaks


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