MAIER Transition to Adulthood Training Modules: Part 4 - Transition Planning and Instruction

As highlighted in the last few sections, the goal of transition planning is to prepare students for positive futures that align with their own vision. Building on what we’ve discussed in previous sections, transition planning should be person-centered and grounded in student self-determination. In other words, ensuring that students have agency over the choices and decisions that affect them. When it comes to writing and executing a transition plan, we typically start with the end in mind. In other words, we should begin by spending time supporting students (and their families and network) to articulate their goals for the future–especially in the areas of employment, postsecondary education, and independent living.

Person-centered planning is an approach that positions an individual as the center of their support network and the guiding force behind their future direction, goals, and plan. Person-centered planning allows individuals to first articulate their vision of the future, then break it down into concrete goals, and then plan for how to execute it.

Exploration Activity

For more information about person-centered planning, check out these resources from the Maine Office of Aging and Disability Services.


Once those postsecondary transition goals are established for employment, education, and living, we are ready to start the process of aligning and making sure that students’ instruction, services, and accommodations are lining up with achieving those long-term goals. However, the process of connecting long-term transition goals with annual IEP goals is not always a straightforward process. For many students, there can be difficult decisions about how to prioritize academic skills needed for college and career readiness as opposed to more functional skills needed to succeed in community settings.

Expert Interview

Balancing academic and functional skill instruction can be a challenge for special educators in the transition process. Universal Design for Transition is a framework that combines both academic and functional skill instruction considerations for students. Check out the following interview with transition expert, Dr. Lauren Bruno for more information about Universal Design for Transition.


In the next section, we’ll start getting into how we can prepare students for specific outcome areas, starting with employment. Click here to move on to Part 5.