” Four Simple Steps to Self-Advocacy “
By: Douglas, D.
This web site provides tips on how to effectively teach your students how to self-advocate for their own educational or personal needs. It is important for young students to self-advocate for themselves because teachers cannot read their minds nor do the teachers know what would make a better school environment or learning experience for them. It is important to educate students to self-advocate, meaning to recognize and address the needs specific to their own learning abilities, without compromising their dignity or that of others. As parents or educators, we should feel the importance to teach our younger generation how to effectively communicate, negotiate, or assert their own interests, desires, needs, and rights.
Four steps to self-advocacy:
1. Understand your rights and responsibilities
All students have the right to an appropriate education; everyone has the right to work hard to learn something new each day. For gifted students, they should be able to self-advocate for being ahead on their academic studies at their own pace if it is necessary. For students with learning disabilities, they should be able to self-advocate for the assistance and modifications they need.
2. Assess your learners’ profile
In order to self-advocate, students must learn as much as possible about themselves. Students need to learn to become aware of their specific abilities and interests, strengths or weaknesses, and learning styles or habits. Teachers can help students learn about themselves from several different channels, such as:
- Students’ Interest = Teachers can guide students to school guidance offices in which they can use the interest and career inventories to assess their future career path. It can help students assess their interest and attitudes about specific subjects. Students should be encouraged to self-advocate for the specific skills they need in order to fulfill their future career qualification.
- Personality = Teachers should help students explore their personality types in order for them to self-advocate for appropriate needs. Teachers can look for assessments such as personality-type indicators. Taking advantage of their personality style (extroversion or introversion, leader or team member, social or non-social), students can self-advocate for an appropriate role to partake in class, in family, or in the society.
- Learning Styles = Teachers should provide differentiated instructions to cater students with different learning styles (visual, spatial, kinesthetic, concrete, abstract, random, sequential). Students can self-advocate for different ways to learn as well as different methods to convey their ideas.
3. Consider available options
Students must be made aware of the choices and opportunities that exist within the school as well as the greater community. Students should be made aware of the programs that the school board offers, such as: summer programs, co-curricular clubs and teams, independent study, mentorships, classroom enrichment… etc. Taking advantage of the growing technology and World Wide Web, students should self-advocate for access of material being available online. If a student sees options being absent at a school or a community, the student should learn to project their opinions to members or parties that relate to the issue. For instance, if a student enjoys singing and the school lacks a choir team, teachers should turn this issue into an opportunity to teach self-advocacy skill. Teachers should encourage the student to turn to the principal and advocate for a school choir by gathering valid points that support his/her position. In essence, teachers should inform students all the possible options available to them and encourage them to self-advocate for these opportunities.
4. Connect with advocates
Teachers should open up themselves as a point of reference for students. Students should be made comfortable enough so that they could turn to the teachers for advice. This encourages them to develop self-advocacy skills because they know they are not self-advocating on their own. Students who are guided through development of self-advocacy skills by caring adults can grow to have greater independence and self-confidence. Therefore, educators should take the initiatives to create a school advisory committee where it is a safe place for students to voice out their concerns and needs.
” Teaching Children’s Rights Through Art Grade 1-6 “
By: UNICEF (ACGC – Alberta Council for Global Cooperation)
There are 2 reasons for teaching the Convention on the Rights of the Child:
- Canada is legally obligated to spread awareness of the Convention to children and adults, therefore it is a particularly important role for public schools to educate students at a young age about their rights and responsibilities.
- There is significant evidence that teaching children about their Convention rights increases their respect for the rights of others. This increased of respect is reflected on their prosocial behaviours and the decrease in bullying. Schools that emphasize on children’s right and use it as a crucial part of their pedagogy and management report improvements in students’ behaviour and attitudes, including an increase of self-regulation.
There are 54 articles contained in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. To list just a few, the articles contain: definition of child, freedom from discrimination, best interests of child, implementation of rights, respect for parental responsibility, survival and development… etc.
This PDF is a great resource for educators who want to teach children their rights in a classroom setting. Rights and responsibilities to children might be a serious topic that is difficult for them to fully comprehend in words, therefore understanding of rights and responsibilities can be interpreted and understood through their own work of art. Art activities are participatory and inclusive; children can gain an experience self-advocating for their own rights and responsibilities through art.
Some suggested art works are:
- Poster Power
- Covering The Issues (Floor tile messages)
- Children’s Rights Quilt
” The ACCESS Project “
By: Department of Occupational Therapy (Colorado State University)
The website is valuable for classroom teachers as it includes information about self-advocacy, various exceptionalities, universal design for learning and students’ rights. Further to this, the website provides a self-advocacy handbook that can be accessed by educators, students, parents etc. It is a straight-forward guide to becoming a self-advocate or teaching students how to become self-advocates.
Under the “Universal Design for Learning (UDL)” tab, it explains UDL as a set of principles and techniques that create an inclusive classroom with accessible instructions and course materials. It also provides a list of technical modules, which are electronic platforms for teachers to make their lessons more accessible to students.
Under the “Self-Advocacy” tab, you will find a handbook for college students with disabilities. This handbook is geared toward students who will transition from high school to college. Within the handbook, students will learn how to plan ahead for college. Students will become familiarized with themselves by discovering their strengths, challenges, and rights. Furthermore, students will explore what they need and want in the future. At last, students will be taught strategies to reach for their goals and dreams efficiently by self-advocating.
Under the “Disability Modules” tab, there will be a list of different types of disabilities and suitable accommodations that correspond to the exceptionalities. This tab is a great reference for educators who have a student with exceptionality in their class, so they can review the purpose of accommodations, faculty rights and responsibilities, legislative background as well as strategy options.