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Creating Independent Students

posted Nov 26, 2018, 12:21 PM by Google Apps
Creating independence for our students is our obligation as special and general education staff. The extent for services will change due to the needs of the student over time. With the use of assistive technology, quality instruction, differentiated lessons and specific programming, paraprofessional support should be faded throughout a student’s educational career. “Paraprofessional support decisions shall be based on student and classroom need, as determined by educational teams” (Kansas State Department of Education, “ Considerations for the Effective Use of Paraprofessionals in Schools, 2018, p. 6). 
What does this mean for the future of our students? The individual needs of students are our obligation, but how we approach those needs will be determined by good decision making. There are many ways to support students in English/ Language Arts, Math, social emotional support and more with peer interaction, specific technology apps, software, access to digital text, and much more. We continue to find ways to provide support for our students and help them become more independent. The intent from the beginning of services should be to best support the student and provide FAPE. Our goal for students is to make progress in the general education curriculum. 
Let’s meet the independence pathway with positive intentions. Annually, IEP teams should determine the level of support and type of modification of services needed to allow the student to be as independent as possible. This may be a paradigm shift for many in the field, but will fall in accordance with the Kansas Can Vision, Kansas State Department of Education and IDEA.
Here are ways to foster independence …
Watch before assisting
Can the problem-solve on his/her own?
Have high expectations for what the student understands or can do independently
Start with the least intrusive prompts
Prompt, then go back to independent time
Be aware of proximity. Sit with the student only when necessary
Utilize self-monitoring checklists for students
Break big tasks into steps
Use backward chaining 
As you consider the implications of learned helplessness, think about how this shift in thinking will be proactive in a student’s life. It’s time to foster independence.