This year, more than probably any other year, I’ve been getting students to reflect regularly on their work. They’re identifying their strengths and needs, and indicating their own next steps. I’m so impressed with how much they’ve learned about themselves as students and as thinkers, and I see them setting and meeting their own goals. I can make this statement for ALMOST every one of my students, but what about those children with autism? How can I get them to self-reflect?
You see, as a teacher, I’m thrilled when I see success. I love when students see this growth as well. I just don’t do well with the words, “This student can’t do it,” or “Maybe it’s not realistic to have this expectation for this student.” Why not? If we set high expectations won’t students meet them? I’m determined for this to be the case.
Now please don’t get me wrong: I think that we need to be realistic about a student’s strengths and needs and willing to modify expectations to help students meet their goals. This is where we really need to know our kids. With the right modifications in place though, I think that anything’s possible. Over the years, I’ve seen this to be true, and today, I saw it again!
Since I’m away from Monday-Thursday next week, and I have student-led conferences starting on Friday, I wanted the students to reflect today to help them when leading their conference. Initially, I planned this activity for all of my students except for those students with autism. I had a different plan. Then I spoke to one of the EAs this morning about my plan for the day, and our conversation inspired me to modify the self-evaluations. I created a social story/task analysis of sorts, where I listed various activities, and I had the students choose their strengths, choose their weaknesses, and write about what they like best about school. Here are photographs of their work (minus their names).
I know that the spelling isn’t perfect, and I realize that there are a few grammatical errors, but both of these students correctly identified strengths and needs. Both of these students indicated what they like about school. Both of these students did this activity independently.
My thought is that if we continue to work on self-assessment, and I keep with a similar format, soon the students will be able to reflect with fewer choices. Maybe they won’t need any. Hopefully we can even start setting some next steps. I’ll take things slowly and reduce stress along the way, but I’ll keep these high expectations because students CAN meet them!
How do you meet the needs of various students? What modifications do you put in place to help ensure student success? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!