October 19, 2011

Some students need more autonomy

I teach five sections of language arts to 8th graders. This year, I have one group that struggles more with independent work than the other four classes.

Recently, we were working on a reading strategy, which required some individual commitment, coupled with small-group discussion. The concept was new, and some students struggled to see the value in it. This was not one of our finest days, and I spent about five minutes explaining how we needed to improve in this area. The day ended in frustration.

The next day, we were right back to our full workshop setting. The students had all of the class time to choose what they wanted to do. This was one of our best days of the school year to date.

When I reflected on this at the end of the day, it occurred to me that some students just relish the autonomy more than others. I knew at that moment that more workshop days were ahead for this particular group.