It turned out to be a very enjoyable time for us as we marked off our accomplishments, navigated to our next destination and noted how much of the journey was yet in front of us. We were able to look ahead and pre-determine how we needed to make adjustments to reach our goal in a timely manner.
The Trip Tik was completely new to me. It is a, turn by turn, written system with accompanying maps in booklet form. Each page indicates mileage and the anticipated time to drive the distance. Exits are clearly marked. It was developed with our specific detours in mind. It was unique to us. It allowed for flexibility if we met a challenge that required more time. In short, it outlined the trip so we could be successful.
While we were faced with unbelievable rain storms, road construction, traffic accidents and the like, we were able to monitor and adjust our trip to make the journey doable even if it was not as planned. We needed to pay attention and drive because regardless of how carefully planned and presented the Trip Tik was, making the trip happen was our responsibility. We were the workers.
Since coming home I have thought a lot about those traditional road maps and our personalized Trip Tik and how they mirror your child’s experience of instruction and learning. The general curriculum is the road map. Your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), the Trip Tik.
The paper road map is very much like the curriculum the teacher is required to present to all students. It is the same for everyone. The material itself is predetermined. It is point A to point B. It has a defined end (learning goal) with no detours.
The classroom teacher has the challenge of breaking down the curriculum (in fact we call it mapping in education) for their class. They take advantage of instructional options as they create the start and stop points- daily, weekly and monthly; the side trips - projects, field trips and goal markers - assessments.
To get from point A to point B takes work. Work on the part of the teacher to manage and present the material and work on the part of the students to take the knowledge and skills presented and practiced and make it part of their natural frame of reference.
Most students' learning will take place in a predictable amount of time. The curriculum is created with the general learner in mind. A good teacher allows for flexibility of instruction and a variety of modalities for demonstration of learning on the part of the students. The learning goal and the time in which it is to be accomplished, does not change.
The Trip Tik is the IEP. It is personal to your child. It is based on the curriculum and is refined to reflect your child’s specific learning needs. It supports learning by varying the route (how and perhaps where material is presented), adds or eliminates stops (information) and can significantly change the anticipated time of arrival (amount learned in a given year). It alerts the teacher to road blocks (learning challenges), provides alternate routes (differentiated instruction) and offers work-arounds (accommodations and technology) that support learning.
Both the road map and Trip Tik require a student to do work in order to arrive at the desired destination. What the Trip Tik and IEP do not do is eliminate the need for focused instruction, attention, practice and hard work. Learning is work. If your child is not working they are not learning.
The goal of a great IEP is to make the learning and accompanying work manageable. It outlines the work. It is not to make school easy. It is to build skill upon skill, over time, to support your child’s learning and life after school.
A great IEP, like a well written Trip Tik, supports your child’s unique learning journey. It is designed skill by skill, time bound, yet not bound by time. Progress is reported based on each specific skill outlined in the IEP. If there is a road block a new goal is developed. Reaching your child’s full learning potential is the ultimate goal. It is the destination.
Like a successful car trip, it takes knowing your destination in advance, following a route, addressing obstacles that may come up along the way, time and work. Your child’s arrival at their destination is well worth the effort to get there. Make sure the IEP supports your child’s unique journey.
If you have questions or concerns about whether your child’s IEP is getting them to the desired destination please reach out. Let’s navigate the journey successfully.
Kathi Wilson, MA, MEd.
KSW Educational Concepts