How to Create a Culture of Openness During Transition (Parents/Educators)


Transition times are always difficult for parents, teachers, and students.  The most salient transition time period (at least in the United States) are the years between 14-21 for special education students.  During this time, school districts are legally required to begin the transition process, and to start the dialogue and programming for transition goals.

Unfortunately during this time, students may have many different support systems and providers in place, and parents and educators can be overwhelmed with streamlining communication between these systems.  Often, some supports providers are invited to key planning meetings, while others are left out of the loop, either by design or by mistake, creating confusion in the midst of a difficult time period.  In more instances than not, the student is not part of these meetings, and is left out of the decision making process, even though the team is planning for their transition to adulthood.

In his article (2016), "Integrating Organizational-Cultural Values With Performance Management," Carl Binder discusses a process of creating a culture of "openness" on decision making.  By creating a culture of openness, the team can focus, as a whole, on discussing the value of all of the opinions in the room during a planning meeting (including the student's in whatever mode they are able to communicate).  The individual student should be the center of this meeting, as it is their adult life that the team is planning.  From personal experience, when working with teams that have this culture of openness, decisions are able to be made in a streamlined fashion, and priorities are able to be accomplished more quickly than when there is a culture of safeguarding information.

Ultimately, this is an exciting time for the student's life and it should be celebrated.  Planning for adulthood can be overwhelming, and it is a time for the team to come together to support the student, instead of dividing into silos.

To help guide parents and educators through transition, we have created an eBook series called Transition to Adulthood.  Our first installment: "Supports and Services" is available here.


Binder, C (2016). Integrating Organizational-Cultural Values with Performance Management. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 36(2-3), 185-201

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