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Specially Designed Education Services | Empowering Dreams: A New Year's Journey in Special Education

Empowering Dreams: A New Year’s Journey in Special Education

Hello, Champions!

As we embark on a new year filled with possibilities, it’s essential to embrace the belief that every student, regardless of the complexity of their disabilities, has the right to dream, aspire, and set goals. In this blog post, I want to share practical strategies to empower your students in their educational journey by incorporating SMART goals and weaving the fabric of their hopes and dreams into the tapestry of their Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

Understanding the Power of SMART Goals

Let’s start by demystifying SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These criteria serve as guiding beacons, helping us tailor goals that are not only meaningful but also attainable. For special education students, breaking down larger aspirations into manageable, SMART-sized milestones is key.

Incorporating Student Voice

In the spirit of inclusion and empowerment, it’s crucial to involve students in their goal development. Even for non-verbal students, technology offers innovative solutions like eye gaze communication. Create a welcoming environment where each student has the opportunity to express preferences, choices, and aspirations. These interactions lay the foundation for personalized and meaningful goals.

Interactive Goal Setting

Facilitate goal-setting sessions that involve students actively. For example, utilize visual aids, interactive charts, or digital tools that allow them to make choices. This engagement fosters a sense of ownership and encourages a proactive approach to learning. Be creative and flexible, tailoring your methods to suit individual needs and abilities.

Building Skills for Independence

While crafting goals, consider those that nurture skills leading towards independence. Whether it’s developing communication skills, enhancing daily living activities, or fostering social interactions, each goal should be a stepping stone towards greater autonomy. Celebrate progress, no matter how small, and use these victories to fuel the pursuit of more ambitious aspirations.

Encouraging Aspirations and Dreams

Beyond the confines of academic goals, carve out space in the IEP to acknowledge students’ hopes and dreams. These aspirations may encompass personal interests, hobbies, or future visions. Whether it’s exploring an artistic talent, engaging in a preferred activity, or envisioning life beyond the classroom, these dreams hold significance and provide motivation.

Reflecting on Progress

Regularly revisit and reflect on the goals set, ensuring they remain relevant and aligned with the student’s evolving needs and abilities. Don’t forget to revisit your data collection systems to ensure that student growth goals are in clear view.  

Use these moments of reflection on past experiences and future plans to celebrate achievements, adjust strategies, and set the course for new aspirations. Progress is a dynamic process, and each step forward is a cause for celebration.

Collaborating with Families

Extend the conversation beyond the classroom by involving families in the goal-setting process. Their insights, experiences, and understanding of the student’s strengths contribute to a holistic and collaborative approach. This partnership ensures a unified effort towards realizing the student’s full potential.

Embracing the New Year with Purpose

As we embrace the dawn of 2024, let’s set our sights on a journey that centers on the dreams and goals of our special education students. By weaving SMART goals with the threads of personal interests, aptitudes, strengths and abilities, we empower each student to actively participate in their educational experience, fostering a sense of agency, belonging, and self-determination.

Remember, your dedication and passion play a pivotal role in nurturing dreams. Together, let’s make 2024 a year of empowerment and boundless possibilities.

Warm regards,

Barb Beck 🌟
Creative Content Director, Specially Designed Education Services (SDES)

©2023 Specially Designed Education Services

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SDES has teamed up with Mundo Pato, Inc., our cloud publishing partner, to create a simple and affordable solution for special educators to use during this critical time.

The Virtual Teaching Materials are a separate supplemental purchase that will greatly enhance the Styer-Fitzgerald Program for Functional Academics ​or can be used on its own.

Virtual Teaching Materials Pricing 1st year: $1000 non-recurring configuration fee plus 12 x monthly charge.

Per Month
Per Year*


































Monthly subscription charge is based on a minimum of 100 students ​and increases by $125 per group of 25 additional students.

Scheduling Tip

Find a student in your classroom who can read and understand your master schedule. Assign them a job in the morning to help set up individual student schedules. See the video of Megan setting up the schedule.
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Suzanne’s student Megan was her Teacher’s Assistant first period during her junior and senior year. One of her jobs, among other clerical tasks, was to set up individual student schedules. It saved Suzanne prep time in the morning and was a great vocational experience for Megan.

SDES has teamed up with Mundo Pato, Inc., our cloud publishing partner, to create the full Styer-Fitzgerald Program for Functional Academics in the cloud. *The Styer-Fitzgerald Program in the Cloud Start-Up Fee: a $6000 non-recurring start-up fee will be added to the first year subscription only.

Cloud Pricing

Per Month
Per Year*
Monthly subscription charge is based on a minimum of 100 students ​and increases by $125 per group of 25 additional students.