Advocating for our Students at KHS

Strategies for effective advocacy

As a special education teacher here at KHS I wear many many hats. On a daily basis I have been known to be Mom, Teacher, Coach, Janitor, a Cook, Chauffeur, and even a Nurse at times. This being said I want to highlight a few points on how to effectively advocate for our students. This being some of their last four years in an educational setting, I feel it is necessary to make it the best last four years for them as possible. To advocate for our students means to be the voice in which speaks up for them and their families. I think that you should set aside your personal goals and opinions and listen to what our students and their families goals and wants are and be the voice for them. The motto here at KHS is Kid Here Succeed. I truly believe that this should be true for all our students and we as teachers should be setting them up for success for real world situations.

Effective Advocacy

A few strategies to follow to be an effective advocate for your students and their families are:

  • Make sure that you are listening to the needs/wants of the family.
  • Stay on track with the desires that have been expressed.
  • Speak out in means for that student when things aren't going the way the family wants.

Example of Advocacy Skills

An example for using advocacy skills would be this past year, We all know and love Dillan, this is a student that is going into his senior year here at KHS. Dillan is a student with Autism. His mother, who is very devoted to his education, has been involved with is education planning and IEP process through out is whole life. For his senior year Dillan wanted to participate in the G.O.A.L.S program offered to our special education students. This program allows them to work at a job site off campus for 2 hours a day as an internship to earn a grade and skills necessary to be successful after graduation. Dillan's mother was aware of the program and had told his teachers from the start that she did not want him to participate in this program. As an advocate to DIllan and his family I spoke with his mother on several occasions and enlightened her about the wishes her son had and so she requested that the IEP team meet to determine the answer to him partaking in the program or not. At the conclusion of the IEP meeting Dillan's mother and the IEP team seen fit that it would be in Dillan's best interest that he be placed in the GOALS program for his senior year. Dillan went on to become very successful in the program and is now waiting for a position to be hired on full time after high school graduation.

I tell you this story to bring to light the fact that if we as teachers don't take the time to advocate for our students then WHO WILL!! If I hadn't pushed what Dillan wanted, then he would have not gotten in that program and he would be on a different less independent path as we speak. So, go forth and advocate!!