Posted September 15, 2011on:
This school year I am excited about the potential to offer self-advocacy groups to students transitioning from high school to college. For most students, entering college can be a rude awakening. They go from a relatively safe, structured environment to a college setting where they are expected to be independent and employ self-motivation.
Many students fail miserably at this, as they often move from a high school setting with hundreds of students to a college with thousands of students. This can be overwhelming, especially if the student has a special need and requires assistance that they have to ask for themselves.
Lots of young people do not know how to stand up for themselves. They may feel intimidated by the process or embarrassed by the potential of being seen as different.
Right now, I am working temporarily at the same school I have been at for about 4 years. I am hoping the system will find me a permanent title, so I can go about the business of helping students navigate through high school and be ready for success in college.
I have been going around to classes this week and presenting sexual harassment prevention training. I have also let students and staff know that I hope to be providing self advocacy groups throughout the year. I explained what self advocacy is and why its an important skill to have.
I surprised myself by using my stuttering as an example. I told every class that I stutter, and what that was like for me in school NOT talking about it and being afraid to volunteer in class or let anyone know.
I shared that now as an adult, I have learned how to talk about it openly and have disclosed in the workplace. I let the students know that I ask for an accommodation. I prefer to not use the public address system in my building, for fear of having my stuttering broadcast through the building.
I told the students that I always imagined that if that happened, everyone would laugh at me. Even though that probably wasn’t true, that is what I thought, and our thoughts sometimes become our reality.
Surprisingly, as I disclosed this personal information about me with class after class, I felt great. I felt empowered and it made sense to relate a personal example of advocacy as I discussed advocacy.
And the students listened intently, and there was not one look of concern, or confusion, or anyone trying to conceal a smile or humor, which I always thought might happen.
I shared with them that now I won’t have to worry about reactions when I stutter in front of them, since I already put it out there to them.
Do you have any similar examples? Or thoughts?