One of my job responsibilities is to serve as a leader of the Self-Determination Team for our locality. Self-Determination is knowing who you are and what you want your future to look like. It’s also about having a support system in place to help you take control of your life, whether that’s an encouraging set of parents or an educator.

Studies indicate that students who have included self-determination goals in their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) are more likely to earn a higher income one year after graduation (Wehmeyer, 2004). As an educator, there are a number of different ways I help students develop self-determination at an early age:

  • Encourage them to make choices and decisions about everyday activities
  • Help them to identify strengths and preferences
  • Help them to understand that choices have results and consequences
  • Talk to them about the process of goal setting
  • Encourage disability awareness
  • Help them to understand accommodations and the role they play in their lives
  • Talk to them about their rights
  • Help them to become involved in their IEP
  • Model problem solving

The Personal Responsibility Program

I also rely on The Conover Company’s Personal Responsibility Program to help students develop self-determination skills. It’s a great tool for assessing students on their current level of self-determination skills, helping the students figure out where they’d like to be in the future, and then finding a way to bridge the gap. It all starts with the Personal Responsibility Map, an assessment that measures students on their current level of self-determination and personal responsibility.

Skill Building Units

Once the student has been assessed, the Personal Responsibility Program electronically assigns skill-building activities based on the results. It takes the burden off of my shoulders so that I can focus on more important things, like helping the students develop self-determination skills.

The skill building units include:

  • Goal Setting
  • Self-Efficacy
  • Values Congruence
  • Achievement Drive
  • Supportive Environment
  • Self-Esteem
  • Self-Control
  • Self-Management
  • Problem Solving
  • Resiliency
  • Self-Improvement
  • Personal Responsibility

The Importance of Goal Setting

Making and achieving goals are two vital elements to personal success. In my experience, I have found that it is imperative that students are involved in the goal planning process to ensure that they take ownership of their goals and respective outcomes. Conover’s Personal Responsibility Program helps users develop the ability to set clear, attainable goals and, most importantly, provides guidelines to aid students to successfully achieve their goals.

Personal Responsibility assesses self-determination skills and then provides intervention strategies for setting and achieving goals. Every student I put through the program comes out with a better understanding of self and a clear vision of what they need to do to be successful in life. Personal Responsibility is just one more tool we can use to help our students and children become great.