Snapshot: Transition Professional Learning Community

Overall Goal

The Transition Professional Learning Community (PLC) will look at best practices to facilitate social-emotional and academic development and positive transitions for the children and families attending Educare, Donoghue, and North Kenwood/Oakland Schools.

Rationale

The PLC felt that it was important to focus on children’s transition from year to year to ensure that teachers, schools and parents foster children’s developmental potential to the fullest. Currently, many children experience a fade, and parents experience shock, from the lack of a seamless transition. Strengthening internal and external communication will help support and ensure social-emotional and academic development and help build high-quality transition practices for the children and families attending Educare, Donoghue, and North Kenwood/Oakland Schools.

Approach

  • The PLC began by sharing transition documents, research and experiences from birth to three years, three to five years, preschool to kindergarten, kindergarten to 1st grade and 1st to 2nd grades.
  • The group then defined and described transition collectively among the members and decided to focus on the preschool-to-kindergarten transition.
  • Through discussion, members identified a concern in the area of communication, both internally and externally.
  • The PLC gathered a copy of each school’s transition plan and found that these plans were not communicated effectively within the schools and between schools.
  • The group identified an event—Shadow Day—that its members shared to look closer at communication.  At such events, preschool children transitioning to kindergarten have a chance to visit a kindergarten classroom and “shadow” kindergarten students.
  • Through further discussion, the PLC found that members had different perceptions of what the transition to kindergarten entailed from their own viewpoints, including teachers, parents, family support and other key staff.

Results

The Transition PLC determined that current communication practices may impede an effective and seamless transition process across the schools and from one grade to the next. Based on the group’s research of best practices and discussions, the most common impediment to a successful transition was found to be communication, both internally and externally. “Research evidence suggests that children may be at greater risk for school failure and social adjustment problems when they experience an ineffective transition between prekindergarten and kindergarten,” according to a 2008 article in Early Childhood Research Quarterly, “Pre-Kindergarten Teachers’ Use of Transition Practices and Children’s Adjustment to Kindergarten.”
The Transition PLC established some recommendations that were pertinent to ensuring transitions are more successful and beneficial to all involved:

  1. Conduct a survey prior to an event to address the social-emotional and academic concerns of the families. According to Ready for Success: Creating Collaborative and Thoughtful Transitions into Kindergarten, by Christine Patton and Justina Wang, “to improve future practices and understand transition concerns, programs administer surveys to families and future teachers in order to gather feedback. In this way, planning decisions are informed by multiple stakeholders.
  2. Conduct a briefing between schools to analyze the survey and plan the event.
  3. Have a representative from each school communicate the expectations of the shared document related to the event to families.
  4. Prepare parents for the event by providing fact sheets based on the results of the surveys.
  5. Conclude the event with a post-survey for the parents.
  6. Create a panel that will review the post-surveys, share the data with all stakeholders and use all feedback to guide future adjustments to the event.

Resources