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Self-Determination Skills Empower Students of All Ages

By Kit Casey, Transition Specialist

How well do students really understand themselves? Can they identify their areas of interest as well as the things they are good at and enjoy doing? Are they aware of their needs – those connected with their disabilities? The responses to these questions are at the heart of self-determination skills, skills that students need to be successful both in school and in the community. ...

This month’s Bright Spot comes from educators in Mount Vernon, Putnam Northern Westchester BOCES, Westlake, Yonkers, Mount Pleasant Cottage School, and Garrison who attended a training on Classroom Management by the RSE-TASC Behavior Specialists.

What were students with disabilities able to achieve?

Participants tried out some of the strategies they learned on the first day of training and shared the results on the second day. Here are a few examples of student impacts:

* Student engagement and on-task behavior for individual work increased measurably

* Student on-task behavior during group work increased measurably

* Students followed morning routines and independently completed morning office work in a TEACCH classroom

* Students increased on-time arrivals and preparedness

* Students participated more actively during lessons, with greater peer-to-peer accountable talk

* Students increased the frequency with which they responded to teacher questions

* Students were demonstrably more excited about conversation topics

What practices or systems made this possible?

Participants said this increase in positive classroom behaviors was directly related to their use of strategies learned in the training, including:

⇒ Provision of more frequent opportunities to respond (OTR) through the use of Turn & Talk, white boards, choral responding, thumbs up-thumbs down, and calling on non-volunteers

⇒ Frequent acknowledgement of students using “Behavior Specific Praise”

⇒ Greeting every student at the door and tracking their completion of morning routines

⇒ Use of quick frequent check-ins, like Fist to Five, to assess both interest and understanding during a lesson

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

Good classroom management is directly aligned with the use of instructional strategies that keep students actively involved and feeling successful.  When students are expected to be continually responding and demonstrating their learning, and when they are acknowledged frequently for their efforts, they are less likely to demonstrate off-task behavior.


SCHOOL TOOL

I’m Determined! – February 2019

Understanding and articulating one’s strengths, interests, preferences and needs is the foundation for self-determination.  I’m Determined! is a free website offering materials and resources to educators, parents and students of all ages.  Videos are available featuring students discussing their own…

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