If you are working with middle school or high school aged students, you know the importance of direct instruction with vocational skills. Vocational skills can help a student gain competitive employment, which can be an essential part of their education in middle school and beyond. As a speech language pathologist, I am always trying to embed work on functional communication skills within vocational activities. Practicing this type of communication can be so powerful for our students!
Knowing where to start can be very overwhelming. I try to partner with an intervention specialist or special education teacher to get a baseline of vocational and communication based skills. One assessment that does a great job of this is called the AFLS ( Assessment of Functional Living Skills). The AFLS by Partington and Mueller evaluates basic living skills, home skills, community participation skills, school skills, independent living skills and vocational skills. It can give us great insight into where to start in intervention with our students.
Once we have our assessment complete, we can set goals for our students. I have found that when I set shared goals with the classroom teacher, my students will get so many more opportunities to practice these essential communication based vocational goals. Based on the student’s assessment and goals, we may focus on following directions to navigate to other parts of the school building, we may work on gathering needed items to complete a work task, we may job sample and try different jobs within the building.
Talking with fellow teachers and administrators will give you better insight into what jobs might be available within your building. Some students may help to tidy parts of the school, some may help to deliver mail, others may help with making copies. Each building is different, but what is important is to determine what jobs might be available to students and how they can embed this vocational practice into their school day.
As a professional, it is important to analyze what communication skills your student may need to practice within each task. If the student is delivering mail to a certain classroom, he/she may need to do the following: gather needed items for the job, go to the office, say hi to people in the office, locate the correct mailbox, get the mail, deliver it to the classroom, knock on the classroom door, greet the teacher, let the teacher know that they have mail, give them the mail, say bye, take items back to their work station, etc… Practicing communication within a more natural context, will help our students generalize these essential language skills.
Along with practicing the communication that goes along with work, discussing different jobs is also important. I don’t know about you but I have a hard time finding age respectful materials for my students. Ones with engaging real life pictures of functional tasks. I have created my own vocational binder to fill this need! This vocational binder includes 15 units, that can be taught over the course of 1 year. Each unit includes a reading passage, reading comprehension tasks, social language questions, real life photographs and an extension activity. This book has something for everyone that you may be working with on job skills. To check it out just click here.
If you want to download one unit for free from this book, just click here to get your free unit. Let’s talk work!
Photo credit: Denise from Speechlanguagepirates