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Take Charge! Self-Advocacy in the Classroom (page 2)

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Updated on Nov 15, 2011

Step Three:  Taking Action

With goals and resources in mind, your child is now fully equipped to take action.  The first part of that involves being able to communicate his or her expectations and goals to the classroom teacher.  Kids might be more comfortable doing this in writing rather than approaching the teacher face-to-face; either way, it is important for them that they are given the chance to articulate their academic needs instead of depending on a parent to do it for them.

Encourage your child to be as specific as possible when approaching a teacher:  saying “I’m bad at English and I need help” isn’t as likely to get results as “I’m having a hard time with verbs—can I come in for tutoring on Tuesday morning?  Also, it’s difficult to see the board sometimes, so could I be moved to the front?” 

Educators who see that a student is self-aware, motivated and able to set precise goals are almost always eager to help.  This kind of behavior gets kids noticed—and in the best possible way.  Teachers are not mind-readers, and all too often (especially in larger classes), children’s needs are often overlooked simply because the teacher is unaware that problem even exists.

Once your child has enlisted his or her classroom teacher’s aid, it’s time to start taking action.  This means following through—referencing the written goals and resources, showing up for tutoring, managing time wisely, etc.  Kids who have gone through the entire process of self-analysis, goal-setting and communicating with teachers are likely to be successful in meeting those goals. 

Step Four:  Evaluating

Too many times parent-teacher conferences consist of just that—the parent, and the teacher.  But children themselves are the most integral part of the equation of classroom success.  Take your children to conferences, help them to reflect on their goal-setting with their instructors present and encourage them to (politely, of course) speak up and be heard in the classroom.  They know themselves, and it’s this kind of academic awareness and confidence that can be the difference between being a name on the roster and a full participant in a personal educational partnership.

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