My response to this statement is, “how do you know that?” I am lucky enough to love my job! What is my job? I educate. I have the very rewarding career of educating professionals, parents, and students about options available to students with disabilities after they leave high school.
Diplomas, exiting credentials, high school equivalency, what else? Opportunity! In order for our students to experience success, we have to give them the opportunity. Yes, I said “we” because we are all responsible for this endeavor. While training on exiting options currently available to students, I constantly hear my participants say; “but my students can’t do that”.
We shelter students. We want to protect them. We don’t want them to fail. But what if we see them soar? What if we opened doors that they never knew existed? What if we give them every opportunity to be successful?! What if we actually see what they can do before making any assumptions?
First, ask yourself what does success mean? A stable job? A college education? A family? All of the above? Maybe your idea of “success” is different than the students’ with which you work. How do you know? ASK! We make too many decisions for students rather than with them. In order to be successful, we have to start small. Ask simple questions about they want to do next year. Allow them to see a future.
If we don’t believe that our students are capable of every opportunity, who will? Start today. Consider the following:
- Start transition planning early. New York State requires the first interview to start at age 12.
- Allow students to take coursework with their peers! Meaningful access to curriculum and socialization are crucial to growing as an individual.
- Create a plan with your students, not for your students.
- Stop sheltering and protecting. Students need to understand that they have a disability and how that disability affects their learning. Allow them to become their own advocates when they leave us.
- Applaud the little successes you and your students make every day. Help them develop a love for learning, embrace challenges, and develop a growth mindset!