Next Best Steps, Part 1: Closing out the year as case manager


At the DLC, we know that achieving equity is a matter of playing the long game. While we know creating high-quality, inclusive learning opportunities for students does not happen overnight, we firmly believe there is always a “next best step” toward this end. Below, we share several ideas that may help you do the next right thing for your diverse learners. You can pick one step to focus on each day. We hope you’ll not only join us in making forward progress, but share your journey with us as well.

Identify one thing you need to know in order to plan for what’s next.

Headed into the summer, we may be losing “face time” with our students and we want to capture what we need to know so that we are better prepared to design learning systems that work come August. What do you need to learn about your students, their families, or your team that will help you plan for what’s next? 

Perhaps it’s a reassessment of basic needs or technology access, individual student reflections or feedback on distance learning, one challenge each family has faced related to IEP services, or a compilation of family hopes for distance learning. Make sure to ask what you need to know THIS WEEK in your weekly phone call, video conference, or Google form. By the end of the week, you’ll be armed with one piece of essential information to begin thinking ahead. This is also helpful information to share with your administrative team in an effort to amplify the voice of diverse learners in the school planning processes.

Create a system for transferring your knowledge of students to their next teams.

Our students will be moving on to the next grade. We have learned and grown so much with them this year, both through typical school building relationships and through distance learning connections. Don’t let this information get lost! Consider ways to ensure that their next case manager, general education teacher, or team lead can hit the ground running with the right information to best support your student.

  • You could draft a letter that describes the student’s strengths and challenges, strategies that have worked (and those that didn’t), and other important information to know. This letter could be filed in the cumulative record or mailed directly to their next teacher or school placement.
  • Have the student’s general education or related service providers contribute by sending out a google form to collect information.
  • You could draft a new IEP with student narratives, present levels of performance, and possible goals – upload as a draft so that the next case manager has a head start into what’s next. 
  • Make a copy of any important documents (IEP, Behavior Intervention Plan, Safety Plan, etc) to provide to the parent. Parents can share this on Day 1 of the new school year so the new team can support their child immediately.

Make a plan to finish your progress reports.

Quarter 4 is rapidly coming to a close. While our core content teachers are working hard on report cards, we special education and EL teachers are assembling final progress reports.

  • Map out your completion – maybe you need to draft one report/day or maybe one content per day? Plan backwards from mailing date.
  • Do an inventory of what information you have and what information you need.
  • Make a plan to collect data or anecdotal information to fill in the gaps.
  • Check with your admin team or district guidance to know how to address gaps in progress monitoring due to COVID19.

Do a hard copy document inventory.

We left school in a hurry and set up makeshift classrooms at home. If you’re like most of us, hardcopy documents are probably a bit haphazard at the moment. We need to ensure that all of these important papers end up where they should and when they should be there.

  • Check your at-home workspace and teacher bag you brought home with you way back in March. Any documents?
  • Visualize your classroom space. Where would you have put documents that needed to be filed or signed? Is there a safe way to obtain them? Either way, list them so you can remember what you need to look for next time you’re allowed?
  • Which IEPs have been signed? Which IEPs still need signatures? Any other signatures needed? Add it to the list!
  • Any documents need to be shredded? These would be documents that are duplicates or drafts and contain private student information – not the finals!
  • Find out when cumulative records are moving to the next school; date your inventory with a “complete by date” so that everything is signed, filed, uploaded, and ready to go with the student.

What next best steps are you taking this week? Share in the comments below!

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