Hi! I am Mary Anne Huband. Like you, I wear many hats. I am a wife and mom to a college freshman, Melanie, and to a 17 year old high school senior, John. I have taught students with disabilities for 38 years in a public school division. Of those 38 years, I have spent 12 years as a vocational evaluator. I am also an adjunct faculty member at two universities. I teach classes on Assessment, Transition, Methods and Characteristics online and face to face. Wow! I sound really good. Bottom line is that I still am in the trenches as many of you are, and will do whatever it takes to help students discover who they really are and what they want their future to look like.
Be Somebody’s Touchstone
We, in Transition are like touchstones. A touchstone is a hard black stone, such as jasper that was used a long time ago to test the quality of gold or silver by comparing the streak left on the stone. My son and I have been part of the self-determination project for our state. A few years ago my son and I gave a presentation together at a state conference. We discussed the experience of having a disability, and how teachers can help students succeed. At the end of the presentation I turned to my son and asked, “Who has been the most significant person in helping you achieve your goals?” Needless to say, I knew without a doubt that he would say me. My son turned to me, looked right into my eyes and said, “Mrs. Gentry.” Well I had no clue who Mrs. Gentry was! I soon learned that Mrs. Gentry was the lady who assists students in the clinic. My son was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of 4 and with a learning disability at the age of 7. He also suffers from severe migraines. Mrs. Gentry was that touchstone who encouraged my son when he was at his lowest points. She gave him his medicine at the onset of a migraine. In his eyes Mrs. Gentry was that significant someone. She was his touchstone. Mrs. Gentry eventually began presenting with us at state conferences and shared how everyone can assist students in achieving their goals.
I want you to be a touchstone. I want you to have a systematic way to get to know your students. I would like to share with you what I have found to work.
What it Means to Really Know Your Students
As a classroom teacher of students with moderate intellectual difficulties at the secondary level I did a good job. I had my students working in the community. We worked in a warehouse, office park, nursing home, day care center and Wal-Mart. I had just left out one important major factor in my teaching. I never once asked my students where they would like to work or which job they liked the best. I now know that the more we know about our students, what makes them tick, what their dreams are, the better we can teach and assess them. You know you and I could read the same book. I might say I loved it and you would say you hated it. You may not have gotten anything out of it. If I had spent 3 days with the author prior to reading the book and I would know exactly why she wrote about the things she did, my perception would be different because I knew the author. That’s what made the difference.
MECA – The Vocational Evaluation Tool
Vocational evaluation is a comprehensive process that systemically uses work, either real or simulated, as the focal point for assessment and vocational exploration. The purpose of vocational evaluation is to assist individuals with vocational development. Vocational evaluation incorporates medical, psychological, social, vocational, educational, cultural, and economic data into the process to attain the goals of evaluation. (VEWAA) Vocational Evaluation and Work Adjustment Association.
A few years ago, I received a brochure for MECA, or Microcomputer Evaluation of Careers and Academics, and was interested enough to attend a free webinar put on by The Conover Company to learn more about it. After the webinar, I knew right then that if I wanted to involve the students more in the assessment process, the MECA system was my answer. I managed to convince the district to purchase the system, and haven’t looked back.
The Conover Company takes you step by step through the vocational assessment process. The support is exceptional. I love that I can always speak to a person when I call, so I know I’ll be able to get answers to all of my questions. They will even exchange items and replace them with new ones if necessary. MECA is the first vocational assessment tool that I have found to be completely comprehensive.
- Identifies interests- The Interest Indicator
- Assesses interests and aptitudes – Work Samples
- Assesses academic/basic skills for the workplace – Learning Assessment Programs (LAPs)
- Creates post-secondary goals – The Career Planner
- Assesses and teaches goal setting and self-advocacy skills – Personal Responsibility
- Assesses and teaches social/emotional learning for the workplace – The Success Profiler
Data that usually took me days to compile is now readily available to me at the click of a button on my computer. Reports are generated and the information can be transferred easily to any required report format. “Assessment drives instruction.” Conover’s MECA System helps her do her job right.