Posts Tagged ‘Self Advocacy and Post School Outcome’

Capstone–Standard 02 Meta-Reflection: Learning Environment

Standard 02 Meta-Reflection: Learning Environment

Creates and maintains school-wide and classroom environments that are safe, stable, and empowering.

Initial reflection during C & I Orientation:

In my role as the special education curriculum leader in an inclusion setting, I must ensure that a continuum of services is available for consideration by each student’s IEP Team. I must see to it that my students are provided services in the “least restrictive environment” and that they are given the opportunity to access free and appropriate public education.

Meta-Reflection following completion of EDU 6655 Human Development and Principles of Learning:

I enjoyed the opportunity to have guidance in this course toward some of the most recent brain research relating to education. While reading the first week’s chapters and articles, I found myself most intrigued and inspired by the Jossey-Bass descriptions of “mirror neurons”, and saw for myself many possible explanations of experiences encountered within my family (a brother who is severely disabled, and my father having suffered two gunshot wounds to the head) as well as those of students within my classroom. I found reading the article, On Empathy: the Mirror Neuron System and Art Education, to be very informative. In settings where I hear people (including my students) share their challenging, real-life stories find that I experience what some might refer to as “compassion fatigue”—therefore, I am interested in the impact of stress on learning. As stated within the Jossey-Bass Reader in Chapter 4, “It is increasingly recognized that efficient learning does not take place when the learner is experiencing fear or stress…inappropriate stress has a significant effect on both physiological and cognitive functioning….stress or fear also affect social judgment, and responses to reward and risk” (p. 44).

In my first paper written for this course, Personal Background Reflection Paper (please see link to Artifact 2.1 below), I reflected on my own childhood experiences in comparison to that of many of my students, and discussed how these intertwining factors influence my teaching interactions with students. As authors Stiggins, Arter, and Chappuis (2006), have clarified, the distinction between assessment of learning vs. for learning, places the emphasis on helping students answer the three questions, “ ‘Where am I going?’; ‘Where am I now?’; and ‘How can I close the gap’?”

Within my second paper, Professional Philosophy of Education and Developmental Theory (please see link to Artifact 2.2 below), I expressed thoughts pertaining to Erik Erickson’s developmental theory. “Erikson defined eight developmental stages during which a crisis must be resolved in order for a person to develop psychosocially without carrying forward issues tied to the previous crisis…” Author, Crain, states, “The adolescent’s primary task, Erikson believed, is establishing a new sense of ego identity—a feeling for who one is and one’s place in the larger social order. The crisis is one of identity versus role confusion” (p. 291). A reflective process I use with students (described below), is one method I believe helps them engage in the development of their ego identity:

Currently in my position as a special education teacher in a largely “inclusive” high school in terms of service delivery, much of my work with students is conducted in the context of individual appointments in my office. One tool that I use regularly with my students is a self-evaluation process—involving both written and verbal responses to a weekly progress report including; detailed listings of assignments, scores, current grade-to-date, attendance, etc. for each of their six classes. An overarching purpose of the use of this tool is to assist students with developing self-advocacy skills as they strive to succeed in high school as well as prepare for post-secondary endeavors. The reflective exercise guides the students through the process of reading information pertinent to their day-to-day life as a student. The completion of the form requires analysis of their current progress as well as the development of strategies for establishing and reaching both short and long-term goals, and encourages students to take ownership, responsibility, (and credit) for their actions and efforts (James, 2012).

Ironically, just this week in April of 2013, as I am working on completing the requirements for my master’s degree by writing/rewriting reflections on my own learning as a graduate student, a dramatic event occurred within my classroom as a student was completing his own written reflection. (Note: As of result of new learning in my graduate studies, I have increased the level of expectation for student reflection to include more extended written responses. The following account of a very recent experience relates also to the use of technology in the classroom—proving that even outdated technology can be used to connect with students).

Since I don’t have enough computer access for all students in my special education Learning Strategies class, I have chosen to use small keyboards to have students write reflections on a regular basis. Although the small, “NEO” keyboards are outdated devices, they are available for my use. Each device holds 8 separate “files” which I have students use to make progress notes in response to specific prompts at various times throughout each term. Files 1-6 are reserved for periods 1-6, and file # 7 is for “other”. Usually, I encourage student to describe in File # 7–accomplishments of which they are MOST proud. I upload their responses regularly and find this process to be extremely valuable in helping me maintain a connection with students and to assist me as I endeavor to respond to their individual needs. Some students are able to express so much more in writing than they would in face-to-face conversations.

Tuesday, as I was uploading and reading student reflections, I noticed the reflection of one very quiet and studious student was prefaced with the comment: “Mrs. James, be sure to read paragraph # 7″. As I continued to upload his work, I found a most heart-wrenching, yet beautifully written expression from this student who had recently been placed on probation. It was evident that he was experiencing a downward spiral toward severe depression. His cry for help included the words, “I can’t go out and make friends or give a shout out to others about my emotions. I get it out in writing or typing now. I stay silent and lonely to rot away…” Thankfully, I was able to talk with him after class and set up an appointment for him to meet with the counselor. The student and I have agreed that he will continue to use writing as a way to help him process his intense emotions.

An example of how research validates the threatened needs of this young man to be connected with his friends and to know that someone cares is referenced in my third paper, Professional Analysis of Developmental Appropriateness (please see links to artifacts 2.3.1, 2.3.2, and 2.3.3 below). As I discuss the Individual Transition form of the Individual Education Plan (IEP), I make the suggestion that work habits and interpersonal skills should be addressed on this form for secondary students because these skills relate to Kohlberg’s Level II Conventional Morality. Crain refers to Kohlberg’s Level II Conventional Morality—Stage 3. Good Interpersonal Relationships. “At this stage children, are by now usually entering their teens—see morality as more than simple deals. They believe people should live up to the expectations of the family and community and behave in “good” ways. Good behavior means having good motives and interpersonal feelings such as love, empathy, trust, and concern for others” (p. 161).

In my Week 4 Blog for this course, EDU 6655: Mind and Brain….Techniques–backed by research? (James, 2012), I expressed my conflicting thoughts about controversial brain research. I conveyed my tendency to agree with author, Hyatt, who suggests “that much of the rush by educators to provide ‘brain-based’ learning opportunities for children is based on information that is selective, oversimplified, or incorrectly interpreted, and he strongly urged that educators and the public exercise great caution when trying to apply findings from brain science to educational interventions” (Hyatt, 2007, p. 120).

Based on my informal, anecdotal research gleaned as an educator in the classroom from 1980 to the present, high school students generally experience a relatively high degree of stress–which I maintain to be a contributing factor to some of the struggles I observe in their lives. My goal is to continue in my endeavor to use any means available to meet the needs of my students as I address Standard 2: Create and maintain school-wide and classroom environments that are safe, stable, and empowering. In the process of completing the requirements for this course (see links to artifacts below), I appreciated the opportunity to reflect with a fresh and guided focus on my years in the classroom and I intend to continue to view new research as it becomes available. I believe new insights will continue to come, along with validation for long-held convictions.


Arter, J., Chappuis J., S.,  Stiggins, R. (2006). Classroom assessment for students learning. Doing it right, using it well. Boston, MA. Pearson Education, Inc.

Crain, W. C. (2011). Theories of development: Concepts and applications. Boston, MA: Prentice Hall.

Hyatt, K. J. (2007). Brain gym[R]: Building stronger brains or wishful thinking?. Remedial and Special Education, 28(2), 117-124.

James, L. (2012). Professional philosophy of education and developmental theory, Seattle Pacific University.

James, L. (2012). EDU 6655: Mind and Brain….Techniques—backed by research?, WordPress  blog, Seattle Pacific University. Retrieved from

Jossey-Bass Inc. (2008). The Jossey-Bass reader on the brain and learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Links to artifacts for Standard 2:

EDU 6655-ARTIFACT 2.1 Personal Background Reflection Paper

EDU 6655-ARTIFACT 2.2 Final Professional Philosophy Paper

EDU 6655-ARTIFACT 2.3.1 Final Paper SECONDARY TRANSITION Form Analysis

EDU 6655-ARTIFACT 2.3.2 TRANSITION Form Analysis.list



Exhibit 4: Community Involvement: Self Advocacy and Post-School Outcome

Laurie James’ Exhibit 4: Community Involvement: Self Advocacy and Post-School Outcome

Exhibit type B: Community Involvement: Identifies at least two school improvement goals and designs a plan that includes multiple effective community involvement strategies needed to directly improve student learning.

CONTEXT: Kingston High School Improvement Goal: #1: KHS Students graduate college ready (including 2 year and technical schools). Special education students are required by law to have a Transition Plan which is designed to help students, teachers, and parents look at goals beyond graduation. The Center for Change in Transition Services (CCTS) is a Washington State’s Needs Grant funded annually by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI) federal resources. The goal of CCTS is to improve post-school outcomes for students with disabilities in the state. To reach this goal, CCTS provides secondary transition training and technical support to Educational Service Districts (ESDs), Local Educational Agencies (LEAs), and public schools that serve high school-age students who have an Individual Education Program (IEP).  In the form of a Post-school Survey, The Center collects, analyzes and reports post-school outcomes for all high schools who had an IEP in Washington State. The post-school interviews are conducted by local school staff during the summer and one year after the student with an IEP has graduated or permanently exited high school. As part of a state requirement since 2000 and federal requirement since 2004,these outcomes have been collected, published and are available on this site:  (Artifact #1—a general explanation of Post-school Outcome Data and Program Improvement).

Based on the 2008-09 study of Kingston High School’s special education students, it appears that zero percent of district graduates interviewed, were enrolled in post-secondary education, one year following graduation (Artifact #2).  (Please note: Examination of this data is usually done by our district’s Transition Coordinator, so this is a new process for me and therefore, this exhibit and its components will require further study, planning, and implementation).

PLANNING, ENGAGEMENT, ANALYSIS: As the leader of Kingston High School’s Special Education Professional Learning Community (KHS SE PLC), I have sought out and brought to our team, curriculum materials which address specific self-advocacy skills required of special education students in high school as well as post-graduation. Through coordination with KHS SE colleagues–including our Transition Coordinator and SE teacher who oversees the instruction on senior portfolios–community/student connections will be encouraged in part, through the following steps:  1) one-on-one, focused follow-up appointments with seniors regarding the preparation of senior portfolios, 2) introduction to Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) representatives, 3) presentation of senior portfolios, and 3) visitation to or from, local community college campus, Access Office for addressing disabilities (Artifact # 3). Our team intends to implement the newly found self-advocacy materials when and where possible (Artifact #4). As this project is a “work in progress”–our team is continuing to plan, develop, and implement strategies to engage students , both during, and in the years leading up to their senior year–enabling them to feel more confident in the steps they take toward  their postsecondary endeavors.


Ongoing                               Teacher instruction/support with individual students

January 2012                      Department of Vocational Rehabilitation representative

February 2012                   Guest speaker—former special education student, now college graduate

March 2012                         Presentation of Senior Portfolios by each graduating senior

April 2012                            Potential field trip to local community college

RESOURCES: As per recent contact from a former student volunteering to speak to my current students regarding pursuing college as a student with disabilities, I intend to invite her to come to Kingston High School as a guest speaker. If arrangements can be made, bus transportation from KHS to the local community college, Olympic College, and substitute coverage will be needed to allow teachers to accompany students on a field trip to tour the campus and meet the Access Coordinator.


Attachment 1:   Examining the Data—Center for Change Transition Services Examining-the-data-08

Attachment 2:   “Telerik Report Viewer” Attending Postsecondary Education-Since Leaving High School –Percent of leavers surveyed attending post secondary education since leaving high school by exit status.(Note: Unable to attach this screen)

Attachment 3:   Olympic College—Access student services information Olympic College–Access Services

Attachment 4:   University of Oklahoma—ME! Self-Advocacy Materials Scope and Sequence  Self-Advocacy Scope and Sequence


Center for Change in Transition Services—retrieved November 19, 2011 from:

Olympic College—Access Services for students with disabilities Retrieved November 19, 2011 from:

University of Oklahoma—ME! Self Advocacy Lessons Retrieved November 19, 2011 from: