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Managing Goals for Middle and High School Students Who Lack Motivation

Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP

July 27, 2015



What are your suggestions for managing goals for middle and high school students who lack motivation to continue services and exhibit negative behaviors toward their communication goals on their IEPs?  


For older children, currently I am in an elementary building, but we go all the way through sixth grade, and I often have this issue with sixth-graders.  Many times I will get them involved in the goal writing process from the very start, that way they have helped make decisions on their goals.  Obviously, I will guide them with a list of options and some feedback.  The more involved they are in helping to decide what they are going to be doing and how it is going to be measured; the better.

I also have older students attend the IEP meeting for buy-in and to help the students feel responsible for what they are going to be learning. It also helps them feel more motivated to work on the strategies, because they participated in designing the plan.  I find that almost every child that comes to the IEP meeting enjoys the process to some degree. They like signing their name on the document.  They like answering questions about what they like and do not like, what works well and does not work well for them.

Sometimes when I have students who become disinterested in working with me, I will change their schedule.  I will simply put them at a different time of day or with a different child, and present it as a whole new ball game.  I will change my teaching lessons a bit.  I change as much as I can so that they feel like they are getting a fresh start, and I will present it as such.  I will say, “We made this change to your plan because of such and such reason.  Let's see if this helps you work a little bit better.”

Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP is a Speech–Language Pathologist with an academic research background. She currently works for a large Kansas City-area school district and owns her own private practice (www.meredithharold.com).

meredith poore harold

Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP

Meredith Poore Harold, PhD, CCC-SLP is a Speech–Language Pathologist with an academic research background. She currently works for a large Kansas City school district and owns her own private practice. She also teaches at Rockhurst University, Nova Southeastern University, and provides local and international lectures on communication disorders and treatment.

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