You have introduced the start of the Independent Practice session, reviewed the rules, identified possible trouble spots, and reminded students of alternative choices to disruptive behaviors. Great job! This next stage can be compared to getting to know the characters, the situation, and the foundation of a story plot. It’s time to put those skills into practice! In Act 1, students engage in a session of independent practice. They will repeat this activity as long as they are at this stage. Here’s what it may look like.
Act 1 – Stage 1:
- Review the rules and routines. Review the expectations for the activity and how to manage any related materials.
- Set the focus. Select one thing to focus on during each session: for example, completing the activity, working collaboratively, or managing materials. After your first session, this can be what the class chose as their goal for the day (see the last bullet).
- Start the session. However you would like to begin this session, whether a “Let’s begin” or ringing a bell, give the signal for students to know that the session has begun. You may consider telling students how long the duration of the session will be to support them in monitoring and managing their time. For example; “Today independent practice will last 10 minutes.”
- Observe the practice. Your role is to be a quiet observer. This is the hardest part. They will try to pull your attention, but don’t give in! Allow students to find solutions to their problems, to rely on their classmates as a resource, and to discover how to work independently in an effective and efficient manner. Make a mental note of what is and isn’t working; you will address it later. I suggest not making eye contact with students but instead keeping a soft eye on the room. This will show that you are interested in the practice, which is the focus of the session.
- Close the session. Give the signal for the end of the session, which may be verbal, a bell, or an alarm. This should last no more than two minutes and is done in an organized, methodical manner. Allow students to manage their materials and come back together as a whole without your input. Your job is to observe their practice.
- Debrief the session. The debrief is the most important part of the session. This is where students are held accountable for their learning and become metacognitive about their practice. In the debrief, the only questions asked are; “What worked today?,” “What do you feel good about?,” and “What didn’t work today and how can we fix it?” Allow students to respond while you facilitate the discussion. Agree, ask clarifying questions, mark important insights, and bring to light any important observations not discussed.You may consider writing down responses.
- Set goals for the next session. The final question to ask is, “What should we focus on for tomorrow’s session?” Allow students to choose what the focus for improving their practice will be. Have them come up with solutions to the problem notating each and posting it. This serves as a commitment to improving their practice, and since it has come from them, there is buy in.
Choose your battles. Trust the process; and believe in your students’ ability to learn and grow. With high expectations, your students will be sure to master this stage quickly.
By: Terri Hamilton