Tyler: Teaching Independence

Tyler Success Story from TennesseeWorks on Vimeo.

Key Factors to Tyler’s Success

Educator Factors

  • Offering a community-based job program for youth and young adults with disabilities
  • Taking into account students’ interests and preferences in job placements
  • Fading supports appropriately
  • Clearly communicating with natural sources of supports in the workplace
  • Providing job coaching supports to help students learn critical tasks

Employer Factors

  • Having co-workers and supervisors available to help students
  • Recognizing that community-based transition programs can be a great source of future employees
  • Encouraging a team-based work environment

Tyler Lisowski emphasizes that “work is important for everybody, disability or not. Everybody has value.” As a teacher in a Community Based Transition Program (CBTP) class for Metro Nashville, Tyler witnesses firsthand the importance of work for his students on a daily basis. The CPTB curriculum teaches skills young adults with disabilities need to know to live independently after exiting the school system, including social skills, vocational skills, independent living skills, and transition skills (link to Mr. D’s success story). CPTB also provides opportunities for the students to gain valuable work experience in locations around Nashville. Tyler’s students are placed at two non-paid work experiences: Centennial SportsPlex and the Holiday Inn at Vanderbilt.

When developing job opportunities for his students, Tyler lets his students’ interests and preferences drive the process: “I think taking the time to listen is important. When we take the time to listen to the wants, needs, and dreams of students, that’s where success happens.” One thing Tyler emphasizes to his students is a differentiation between a dream job and a realistic job. Using himself as an example, Tyler says, “For me, I love playing guitar but I’ve learned pretty early on that I’m not going to be a rock star and tour the nation.” Tyler encourages educators to incorporate students’ dream jobs into realistic jobs. He uses an example of placing a student in a movie theater who is interested in the film business.

Once his students are on the job, Tyler shifts his focus to a team-based approach. He cultivates relationships with the natural supports, the employers and co-workers who will be working closely with the students. Tyler notes, “Clear communication is essential when shaping these job opportunities for students.” Clear expectations need to be set for the students and the entire team should be made aware of any needed accommodations. Job coaches are critical to the process, helping provide accommodations and support. As the year progresses, Tyler and the job coaches fade as the students grow increasingly independent. Independence is the goal in these work placements as with every area of the CPTB program.