NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ902006
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 11
ISSN: ISSN-0040-0599
Teaching Self-Determination: Empowered Teachers, Empowered Students
Jones, Melissa
TEACHING Exceptional Children, v39 n1 p12-17 Sep-Oct 2006
A popular term in contemporary special education circles is "empowerment," but what does it actually mean to be an empowered individual? Although many definitions exist in the literature and include such terms such as self-determination and self-advocacy, at the core of empowerment is the understanding that an individual is truly empowered the moment they recognize the inherent authority she possesses to control her own life. Ultimately, empowerment means to make decisions that affect one's destiny, to choose the paths that one wishes to traverse. Although the concept of student empowerment is bantered around in special education, many students with disabilities remain unempowered, relinquishing the decision making about their lives to adults. Unfortunately, sometimes the adults in these students' lives have an agenda of their own that does not take into consideration the student's interests and vision for themselves. However, young people with disabilities do have the ability to engage in decision making about their lives once they have been made aware of what decisions need to be made and are encouraged to see themselves for who they are, with all the gifts and unique qualities that each brings to a community. Unfortunately, students with disabilities frequently do not understand their strengths and their needs because the adults in their lives often feel compelled to protect students from their disability. Their individualized education program (IEP) meetings are cloaked in secrecy and the facts of their disabilities are often shrouded in unfamiliar terms or are even unspoken. A group of teachers decided to begin the process of unveiling the mysteries of the IEP and also to help students become self-advocates and leaders in their life decisions. These teachers agreed to work with their students to explore the steps it takes to guide students toward their own empowerment. Most of these teachers are special educators, although one teaches in a parochial school setting where formal special education services are offered only on a limited basis. This group of teachers were brought together and supported through an action-research project by a university professor in a graduate-level course. This article presents what was learned from their students with disabilities about facilitating student empowerment in their schools.
Council for Exceptional Children. 1110 North Glebe Road Suite 300, Arlington, VA 22201. Tel: 888-232-7733; Fax: 703-264-9494; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A