Monday, October 24, 2011

How to Create Independent Learners!

Do your kids need you too much?  There such a thing as too much of a good thing!  

It all starts with accountability!  You have to hold yourself accountable to follow through - because truthfully in the moment it is just easier to do it for the kids!  And also hold your students accountable and responsible for following your expectations!  

Here are some ideas that work for me:

1.  Partnerships!  See my partnerships tab to see how to successfully implement and label for how to make them work for you!  

2.  Students can only interrupt me for of of the 4 B's - Blood, Barf, Bones, or the recently added Bad Bathroom!  If it is not one of those, they must wait and I will ignore them (the student I am working with is no less important than them!)  (Sisterly advise - thanks Jess!)

3.  Students are responsible for their own things.  I do this through a series of structures in my class.  When students need a pencil, they get a pencil. When students pencil breaks, they know where to get one.  When a student finds a pencil, they know where to put it.  There is no reason to ask  about a pencil because they already know the answer! 

4.  Students have partners and friends to ask questions of.  Before I answer a question for a student I always say "Did you ask your partner?  And what did they say?"  Following two responses are either (1) "Partner, did he ask you..."  or (2) "did you ask someone else?"  From there I ask what they think, because usually students know the answer!  When all else fails, I answer the question with a smile.  Eventually students begin solving their own problems and not coming to you for silly things like I found a pencil!  

5.  Tattling drives me CrAzY!  So as a teacher I have to teach you to read and write and help you through so-and-so did whatever!  CrAzY!  My response is often similar to the above but also may include "Oh no, what are you going to do about that?"  If they say they don't know, my response is "would you like some suggestions?"  Suggestions include things like asking them to stop, finding a new place to sit, or working with another person.  Of course this is tricky balance because you don't want those calls coming in saying CrAzY things are happening in your room, so you have to still be aware and address any issues in class counsels, meetings, or through character development activities.  (Learned this for the most fabulous first year teacher, Ms. Nicoletti!)

Please post any other ideas you have that work for making your kids more independent!   Photobucket


  1. I love this, I was just talking about teaching kids to be problem solvers today in my parent conferences! I don't answer questions for kids that they can figure out for themselves. Student: "I don't have a pencil!", Me: "Oh my goodness, what are you going to do about that?!" At first they are puzzled because they are so used to everyone else solving their problems for them, but soon enough they figure it out! I also have a giant STOP sign at my teacher table, and for those that still come up, I hold it up until they get the idea. Kids are so funny!

  2. That is a great idea! I am so printing a stop sigh for my desk right now! Thanks for sharing!