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Guaranteeing Special Education Rights: Individualized Education Plans

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Writing a Transition Plan: Advice from Experienced Tribal Program Staff

Writing the plan itself can be a part of the VR process. Keys to success on a job are the abilities to make decisions, take responsibility, set goals and achieve them. In creating a transition plan, always emphasize that it is the student's plan. Ask her to make the decisions. What is the student's goal? Is it full-time employment? Part-time employment? What kind of job would she like?

Expect a lot of "I don't know" answers at the beginning of the process. Especially early in their careers, counselors may find it hard to resist the urge to 'do it for the person'. After all, this is a helping profession and we only want to help, don't we?

If the student doesn't know what he or she wants to do, ask about their experiences so far. What were their favorite classes in school? Did they have a part-time job? Did they ever participate in any work-study programs. Have they had vocational classes?

One strength many Native Americans have is that we can easily avoid the need to get down to business. For many of us, when meeting with a person, we start off by asking about relatives, how people in the family are doing. Sandra Bercier, a counselor from Turtle Mountain says,

One of the most effective ways I’ve found to support the consumers I work for is to look at the big picture. We talk about everything that affects their life, in both good and not so good ways. Employment isn’t just about WORKING. It is about supporting families, feeling fulfilled, being able to afford to do the things you want to do, etc. So when I sit down with John Deer or Jane Doe, we talk about the things that they really want out of life and how Vocational Rehabilitation can help them get there.

It is very important to listen to everything about the student's life. Programs like Job Corps might seem like a good fit, but we have known many students who failed at Job Corps because they were desperately unhappy being away from their reservation where all of their friends and their family lived.

NEXT arrow NEXT: From school to work, getting down to the details

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