International Journal of Whole Schooling
Throughout this practitioner-oriented paper, we provide a rationale, framework, and supporting materials to promote the development and implementation of personalized, contextualized, and holistic individualized education plans (IEPs) with a strength-based orientation. We believe that adopting strength-based IEP writing practices is vital to reconstructing students with disabilities as capable contributors to their inclusive classrooms. The use of strengths-based approaches is not necessarily new, however supporting individuals’ needs in a strength-based model has been largely overlooked in special education. Despite their growing application, inclusive pedagogical approaches are largely absent in the development of strength-based IEPs for students with disabilities. IEPs remain largely deficit-focused with only surface level attention given to documenting students’ strengths and abilities. When present levels academic performance statements and IEP goals are written in a deficit-oriented manner, special educators miss opportunities to see beyond the limitations and challenges that their students may face, and instead, overly focus on the shortcomings of the student. However, by adopting a strength-based approach, special educators can instead focus their attention on remediating these deficits by paying attention to the student as an individual and highlight their students’ many strengths and capabilities.
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Elder, B.C., Rood, C.E., & Damiani, M.L. (2018). Writing strength-based IEPs for students with disabilities in inclusive classrooms. International Journal of Whole Schooling, 14(1), 116-153.