Teaching students to work independently is a vital task for all teachers. Click through to learn how to teach your students independent work skills! Teaching students to work independently is a vital task for all teachers but especially for teachers of split grades. It is also one of the largest barriers that prevents teachers from using inquiry.
So you may not like hearing it but almost all students are capable of working independently. There work needs to pass the Goldilocks test. It can’t be too hard, It can’t be too easy, It has to be just right.
It also has to be engaging and purposeful.
Students also cannot work independently, If they are not taught how.  This is why I teach studentsExplicitly How to work independently.  I also left themExperience failureAnd coach them through this failure

Set Clear Expectations

Create an anchor chart with your expectations.  When teaching these to students remember that you must do this in a variety of ways. You must Tell them, teach them, show
them, post them, practice them, reinforce them. In Daily 5 they call this building stamina but it can be used in all subjects.

Be Explicit

Tell students that you want them to work independently and that you need them to do this so that you can teach the other group of students.

Ask them what this should look like in your classroom and write it down.

Model It

Have a student demonstrate what this looks like in your classroom.  Have another student demonstrate what this doesn’t look like then have them fix it.

Practice

Practice, Practice, Practice.  Have the whole class practice this and time them.  Start with 2 min and work up to 20min.

Make a chart to track their progress. You could use a bar graph or you could use the one in this free resource here.  Teaching students to work independently is a vital task for all teachers. Click through to learn how to teach your students independent work skills!

Hold Them Accountable

Be ruthless, and picky.  If any student does not follow the rules stop the time and try again later.  That is all that they can handle.  If you have students that struggle with this due to specific learning needs have a special contract with them to build their endurance.

When it starts to slip or fail again that means it is time to practice again. Reinforce your expectations

Check Yo’Self

When students are building endurance do not help them.  Walk away, watch from your desk, or corner of the room.  They have to be able to control their own behaviors without your support.

In my classroom, my students will generally find me at the guided reading table or on the carpet with a group of students. So this is where I sit when I am helping students to build up their independence.

Time for Guided Instruction

Once your students begin to show some endurance with working independently you can begin to teach the other group of students.

But remember to hold your students accountable for the independent work you have assigned.  Collect everything (even if you don’t always mark it, make them think that you are and monitor the students who are not using their time well and make an independent work contract with them)

Final Thoughts

No excuses and no buts.  This does work with 98% of students.  Generally, if students are not working
independently it is not the student but the teacher’s expectations of what is
acceptable that is confusing.  Be
critical of yourself and ask yourself are my words and actions consistent.  You may be unknowingly reinforcing your student’s dependence on your control.

To get this guide to help you get your students working independently!! Click the photo below

Teaching students to work independently is a vital task for all teachers. Click through to learn how to teach your students independent work skills!