No, really. I’m Texan but not that Texan. But I do say howdy here
and there and y’all really is a real word, and I am terribly excited to have
the opportunity to be part of Reality 101 this year!
To share a
little bit of background on myself getting into teaching…
When I was
applying for teaching positions, I had my heart set on a PPCD unit. I adore
working with little ones. After applying to 30+ positions in the area, I was
called for one interview and offered one position. I was hired to open a new
class that they were calling the 12+ Class (now 18+ Program). It would be
solely for students ages 18-22. Can you say “opposites”?
say, everything happens for a reason. I now adore and have become very
passionate about working with my 18+ Program students. I very quickly realized
that many of these parents and students had no idea what they will do after
their student aged out of public school. So my left-brained, problem solving
personality revved up and started to try to fix it.
I built up
my action research project for graduate school to address this area. I did the
literature review. I defined the problem.
I hypothesized reasons for the problem and possible solutions. I interviewed
students and parents. I analyzed the information. I drew conclusions. In a
nutshell, families want their students to be happy, independent, and productive,
but struggle to find and access resources to support them.
really wanted to do was come up with a planning tool that would guide the
school and the family through the process of transitioning successfully to
adult life, but that was a little bigger a project than my action research was
supposed to be. However, last year in working with a transition consultant, I
finally have a “Life Planning Tool for 18+ Adult Schedules.” I have used this
with each of the students in the program this year.
My plan outlines
where the student will live, what they will be doing during their days, what
skills they need to be more independent, what their necessary levels of
supports are, what they will do for recreation and leisure, what their social
life will look like, what work or volunteering they will do, what continuing
education they will pursue, what funding they have and will need and what
transportation they will use.
that information, I can develop their PLAAFP and IEP. With a clear individualized
programming goal, there is a clear finish line. When they reach that finish
line, they graduate. Whether that is November, February, or June or at age 19
or 22! When they are ready, they go!
So it is now
Week 6 of the 2013-2014 school year and everything is settling down enough for
me to reflect a little on how well that planning tool has actually lent itself
to my programming and instruction. While it definitely hasn’t been perfect, I
can certainly point out several successes:
- Visual Hygiene
Checklist – Students complete this routine every morning – already seeing
significant improvements in appearance, smell, and independence!
– several assessments have led to a solid sense of preferences and interests
for students who are new to the program.
Skills – I see significant improvements in accuracy and speed with sorting,
matching, and basic alphabetizing of mail in our campus mailroom.
Support – Having the opportunity to really visit with each set of parents or
other primary support folks has really established a sense of buy-in and
support for the program.
struggles are also pretty apparent:
- Policy &
Procedures – Trying to establish an atypical educational program within a very traditional
school system and model is HARD – restraints of daily attendance times has been
my greatest obstacle.
- Urgency – The
urgency that I have for my students and their goals is hard to instill in the
“higher ups” because they have so many other things on their plate as well.
Contacts – Finding businesses, groups, and individuals in the community who are
willing and welcoming for my students is a struggle. I find myself constantly brainstorming and looking
at things from a variety of angles.
onward and upward! Continue with the good things and try to work out the other
experience do you have with transitioning students out of public school to
their adult lives? What successes and struggles have you recognized in your
programs already this year?