Welcome to your fall semester (it's a little late, we know). I don't know about you, but I have been holding on to summer with both hands, my feet, and probably my teeth, too. If you are an educator, we heap blessings, big ideas, and bright minds on you. If you are a parent, you're likely finding yourself sitting between "my how time flies" and "can't you just set your own darn alarm?" And, if you're a student, you've likely been conflicted, too- maybe a little nervous, but a little confident, with so many questions and too many answers as you near the end of high school, or start your first college semester. So, I'm going to do something a bit dangerous and write to all three of you, giving you permission to be "new" right now.
- BE NEW: Student, being a someone with a disability comes with a lot to consider. But like everyone else, you get to be new at the start of the year. If you have struggled in the past, try letting some of that go. You get to do/be something different today. What will that be? Parents, teachers...let the student be new, create something different this year. We know old habits die hard, but how can we prompt them to be new right now?
- SAY WHAT YOU NEED: Student, it's time to start practicing stating what you need in order to be an independent learner. If you don't know, then it's time to start asking those you trust (i.e. school counselor, parent, teacher). What do you notice I need as a learner? Also, what do you NOT need any more? Where have you developed more independence? Parents, educators...say what your student may need this year that is different from previous years (see our post on student-parent communication plans for more on this).
- START NEW: Student, what is something you have not tried before that you have been curious about? What do you need to do more actively that you have not before (tutoring services? a new sport? asking a question out loud in class?). We'd state the obvious, here. For example, you MUST use a planner effectively and ask for feedback with it. You need to take ownership of your homework if you haven't already. Parents, educators... start a new action of NOT doing this year, using your communication plan to let your student know how you are going to change. A good place to start here is in the life skills/independent living area (setting alarms, preparing food, homework reminders).
Being new means being brave, I think. I write the things above like they're just so simple and easy. We get that it's not, but we know your brain will love you for being new in even some small way. No matter what you decide, we wish you a fabulous fresh start this academic year.