In a previous post, I touched on the importance of self-advocacy and how to support students with developing this skill. By “self-advocacy,” I’m referring to a student’s ability to speak up for him/herself to get a need met or problem solved at school (versus promoting personal, personal, or religious ideas or beliefs to others). In terms of school and life success, self-advocacy is inseparable from personal responsibility.
Here are five simple steps for helping students develop self-advocacy skills for school:
- Discuss and define what it is. Make self-advocacy a regular part of classroom and home conversation. Adults can share ways they have (or have not) self-advocated in their education, jobs, and everyday lives.
- Validate, validate, validate. Sympathy and understanding are key when responding to a self-advocating individual. Critical or belittling reactions will shut down this process.
- Make a plan. How can a student ask for help, explanation, or permission? Is there a particularly “safe” teacher with which to begin practicing this skill? If so, communicate with them in advance. Rehearse the process at home. Then give it a try.
- Reinforce and review. How did the self-advocacy experience go? What worked and what didn’t? How did it feel before, during, and after? Compare notes with the teacher. Also, what positive reinforcement can teachers and parents implement to help sustain this behavior in the student?
- Return to step 1. Self-advocacy never stops. Successful individuals are continually evaluating their own strengths and weaknesses and responsibly communicating (not demanding or imposing) their needs to others.
Remember, self-advocacy is a skill. For mastery, it must be learned, practiced, and repeated!
©2022 Individual Matters, LLC. All rights reserved. Feel free to republish so long as credit is given.
Every day when I return home from work, my two adorable dogs jump around madly, wag their tails, and spin in circles until I pick them up and love on them. Then, when it is time to leave again in the morning, they walk me to the door and wag their tails goodbye.
Have you ever sat at the airport and watched family members excitedly greet their loved ones after a long trip or tearfully say goodbye as they head off to the gate? Do you remember the first time you dropped your child off at preschool, and then later that day when you picked them up? At drop off, maybe the hug lingered a bit longer, there were some tears, and their little hand waved in the window until they could no longer see your car driving away. Then at pick up, they ran to you bursting with excitement saying, “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” and you held out your arms ready to be reunited after 3 long hours apart!
As I reflect on such moments, I am reminded of the power of “hellos” and “goodbyes.” What if everywhere we went, greetings were traded with such genuine affection and love. And then, when it was time to part, hugs lasted a little longer and there was one more, “I love you.”
Life is busy. Wake up, eat breakfast, grab your bag, zip off to school, make it just in time…finish your day, head home, eat, go to practice, eat again, bathe, homework, bedtime, sleep…then it all starts again. It can be hard to connect and be present when life moves fast, when there are long to-do lists, early start times, and hard deadlines. However, no matter how busy the day, how crazy the schedule, or how stressful the week… when the ‘hellos’ and ‘goodbyes’ are solid, everything that happens in between can be managed.
This week’s challenge: Be intentional with your “hellos” and “goodbyes.” Greet your spouse like you used to when you first started dating. Say goodbye like they are leaving for a long trip. Drop off and pick up your child like you did on that first day of preschool…yes, even your middle schooler! Maybe don’t run at them with open arms and tears in your eyes…but be intentional. Be present. Be in the moment…even it it is just for a moment.
©2021 Individual Matters, LLC. All rights reserved. Feel free to republish so long as credit is given.