Self-determination plays a pivotal role in the lives of adults and students with disabilities. In fact, self-determination is one of the component areas of the Expanded Core Curriculum (ECC). The ECC consists of a set of competencies and skills necessary for children who are visually impaired to learn in order to access and benefit from the general core curriculum, according to a Council of Exceptional Children website. These skills and competencies are taught by the Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) along with any relevant core related materials in collaboration with the education team. Self-determination involves decision-making, self-advocacy, and knowing oneself. When requested to assist with the education of students at our state’s residential school for the blind for a summer program, I consulted resources and developed the following lesson.
First, I reviewed with the students the concept of self-determination and outlined what would be happening during our lesson. The objective of the lesson was to help students identify their strengths and weaknesses, dreams, goals, and how personal well-being impacts the functioning of self and communities. To complete this portion of the lesson, I allowed students to introduce who they were and discuss their hopes for the future. The goal I intended for the lesson was to have the students be comfortable with talking about who they are and how they would achieve their ambitions. This was successful.
During the lesson, we discussed: independence, appropriate behaviors, how to be assertive, and identifying supportive circles of friends, family, and professionals. Once during the lesson, I had to stop one child from answering for another because I explained, “We are here to learn about independence in every way, including talking.” Because I recognized attention in the hot summer could fade, I created a fun chant for the children to do throughout the lesson. Every so often, I would say, “It’s my life!” The children would then make a repeated hooting sound, similar to what 1980’s dance music use to do. They loved it!
For the last ten minutes, I divided the class into two groups with instructions for potential real-life situations. One group would order at a pretend Restaurant, and the other would conduct a job interview with the other adult in the room. After preparing, I played the part of a French waiter, taking their orders. I would tease them and say, “You do not like me! You are looking at the table! I will get another waiter!” This was done to remind the students of the importance of eye contact in the world of sighted individuals.
These students demonstrated initiative when interviewing the other adult who was present. They asked relevant questions for a job interview. I complimented the students on their behaviors, respectful demeanor, and well-thought out approach to a group interview. Self-determination will not be a problem for this group; I know this because they left singing, “It’s my life!” Indeed, lesson learned.
Lesson Plans-Self-Determination At: www.uaa.alaska.edu/…/selfdetermination…