Wednesday, 10 September 2014

LD and Learning Skills

Employment and Learning Disabilities

After reading an article Catherine M. Smith entitled "Possibilities and Pitfalls: Employment and Learning Disabilities" it became very clear to me how important it is to teach students more than what is in the curriculum. (Not that this is a new phenomenon but sometimes it is important to re-examine the big picture)  

It is not surprising to hear that adults with an LD struggle to find employment, to acquire appropriate accommodations or training and often lose the job within a short time. Smith points out possible reasons for this: lack of fit between skills and job requirements; social skills difficulties; systemic barriers resulting in lack of appropriate accommodations; and difficulty handling the learning experiences inherent in any job in today’s world. 

So the question I asked myself is what can I do as a teacher of junior and intermediate LD students. The article reinforced the importance of focussing on the following skills in the classroom:

  1. Students need to be able to identify and understand their strengths and weaknesses
  2. Students need to be able to set measurable and attainable goals, assess their achievement and follow through with the next step.
  3. Students need to practice advocating for the themselves and their social, academic and emotional needs.
  4. Students need to be able to communicate their feelings
  5. Students need to understand the concept of perseverance and see the result of hard work
  6. Students need to take part in creating their IEP and understand the purpose for the plan
  7. Students need to be able to work collaboratively with others

I have always said to my students before handing out the report cards that the most important section is the Learning Skills and the corresponding letter grades. As a mother it is the section of the report card my husband and I sit down and analyze with our daughter. But it is often an afterthought, a last minute lesson before report card writing because we have become inundated by curriculum expectations and have run out of time to teach the life long skills found on the front page of the report card. 

This year my goal is to focus on explicitly teaching the skills listed above which correlate with the expectations under the learning skills. Great Website - with links to resources that can be used for a variety of learners

Checklist to use for Learning Skills

Possibilities and Pitfalls: Employment and Learning Disabilities

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