It’s one of those days, when the lesson can barely get started due to a pupil not having a pen, another not knowing where they sit, a third complaining that they couldn’t find the homework sheet. By the time you get the class started, your brain is frazzled and it takes you a moment to get your head straight. Try the following ideas to increase pupil independence in the classroom.
1. Make your seating plan visual
Teaching in a UK secondary school, you will probably see several classes each day. Therefore having pupils know where to sit before each lesson is key. You could use colour coded stickers on pupils’ books and the table, have table numbers that are also written on to the pupils’ books or have table signs displaying the pupils’ names. That way, pupils get themselves to the correct place at the start of each lesson with minimal disruption.
2. Have a stationery box
Save yourself the hassle by creating a stationery box of the basics, including pens, pencils and rulers. Have each item labelled with your name (on some brightly coloured tape so that they are easily identifiable). You can then speak to pupils with missing equipment at a moment in the lesson that suits you. You could even create boxes for each table that include scissors, glue, highlighters and anything else that pupils will need to hand during the lesson. Plastic shoe storage boxes are great for stationery items as they are long enough for rulers and the lids make them easy to stack away.
3. Set up a homework station
By setting up a homework station in a corner of the room, you can keep a couple of copies of each assignment sheet in clearly labelled and dated folders, together with hand-in trays. Large foil roasting dishes are a cheap alternative to plastic trays for handing in work – they can also be decorated to create a colour code for each class. Anyone with a homework query can be directed over to the homework station first.
4. 4 B’s before me
Create a culture where pupils must use four other sources of information before they can ask you – brain, buddy, book and board. In other words, before they ask you, pupils must think for themselves, ask someone else, check in the book, or check what’s on the board. That way you can eliminate those questions that don’t promote learning, but do take up valuable time.