Learning Specialist, Franklin Academy
Sara went to Syracuse University to get her undergraduate degree in secondary science education. While teaching, she realized how many students with disabilities were flying under the radar and not receiving the air that they needed from teachers. She decided to attend Southern Connecticut State University to get her Master's in special education with a concentration in assistive technology.
One of the toughest things about working with high school students, especially those on the autism spectrum (as parents and teachers who work with these students will tell you), can be teaching them about accountability. Not just teaching students to take accountability for their own actions, but also helping the adults that work with them model it to support their students. Finding a tool that requires teachers, students, and even parents to accept responsibility can be tricky. This is why I use Kiddom, so I can make everyone accountable without adding any extra work for myself.
Holding Students Accountable
One of the primary goals of my school is to prepare students for independent life. This doesn’t just mean teach them enough to pass tests and get into college. We also work on their social skills, executive functioning skills, strategies to cope when they are struggling emotionally, and much more. In order to grow in any of these areas, students must take accountability for themselves. If they don’t see a problem, how can we expect them to fix it?
Kiddom allows students to be in the driver’s seat with their schoolwork. Not only do they have access to all assignments electronically (no more “my dog ate my homework excuses” accepted in my tech-friendly classroom) but they have the opportunity to take the initiative and ask for help, even when I am not standing in front of them. From day one, the expectation for my students has been that if they are struggling with a homework assignment, they are to try their hardest and let me know ahead of time if they were unable to complete it, otherwise they were not going to get credit. Kiddom allows them to stick to that expectation and take accountability over their learning.
Keeping Teachers Accountable
Practice what you preach — we’ve all heard the saying, but it’s not so easy to do. If our goal is to get our students to take accountability for their work, teachers must do the same. In the same way you add students to Kiddom, your class codes can be shared with other adults at the school too. In this way, teachers are responsible for responding to and have easy access to student data and work.
Each teacher at my school has a learning specialist that partners with us to make sure that what we choose to teach and how we choose to teach it is the best fit for our population of students with ASD. I have seen teachers who don’t quite “get” some of our students and therefore have trouble meeting their needs. Again, this is where Kiddom holds adults accountable andsupports their professional development. I can share my class codes for Kiddom with my learning specialist, and they can see exactly what assignments I am giving to my students. I am held accountable for assigning appropriate work for my students, as well as differentiating assignments for students who need it. This way, when we meet as a group of teachers each Monday, my learning specialist already knows what is going on and can give me feedback along the way before it’s too late and a student falls through the cracks. Teachers can also share classes to really make sure we know what every student is working on in each class. This way, I can help them with their math homework at night, even though I am not their math teacher, because I can see exactly what work they have been assigned. I also see when they get assigned extra work in their humanities class, so I may assign them less work in science so as not to overwhelm them in one day. Kiddom allows us to truly share our work with our supervisors and fellow teachers on an ongoing basis so hopefully no more students fall through the cracks.
Keeping Parents Accountable
I work at a boarding school, so I have the additional responsibility of acting as proxy parent, seeing my students at night, and checking in to ask them if they have done their homework. This year, I have a day student as well, so I have to rely on the parents to push their daughter to complete her work. Kiddom really helps me with this as well.
At the start of this school year, my day student got very behind quickly, and her father said that he had no idea what homework she was supposed to be doing, and that she had just told him she had finished it already. We quickly learned that we had to work especially hard on getting this student to take accountability for herself. We were able to explain to him how Kiddom works, that he could easily see assignments that she had, ones that were late and if they had been handed in or not. He was able to take some steps to support her and ensure that she really was doing her work and staying up to date.
For students who are still struggling to be self-advocates, their parents can double check the work that needs to be done via their student’s account, as well as call their child out when they say they’re done. This also puts an extra piece of accountability onto the student, with one more adult pushing them to do what they need to do on their own.
Accountability is a huge piece of the very complicated student puzzle. It can be the turning point for a student who is struggling in all aspects of school to start to see growth in herself and therefore keep working and pushing. If our students can see the adults in their lives being held accountable and accepting that, we will see so much more in our students than we may have thought.
P.S. Want to dive right in? Click here to access a demo class!
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