We hear about classroom structure all the time. For many of us it becomes like second nature. We seem to innately create little cave-like alcoves in our classroom when setting up whether we mean to our not. But let’s stop for a minute and think about it – why is this structure important? Sometimes we do things for so long that we forget to reevaluate why it’s actually necessary.
Why is classroom structure important?
- decreased negative behaviors
- lessen student anxiety
- increase independence
- increase efficiency
Those are some pretty impressive outcomes and I better have caught your attention. Decreased anxiety? More independence? Who would turn those things down? That’s like turning down free doughnuts or free wine. Don’t be silly. We are jumping on that bandwagon.
My Dumb Alien Example
So let’s say you got abducted by aliens. You’re probably freaked out, right. They kept talking to you but you don’t speak alienese. But every time they take you to the blue room they give you cookies, diet coke, and let you watch netflix. Every time they take you to the green room you have to do long division and eat celery. Even though you don’t know what they are saying after a few days of this routine, you know what will happen when you walk into the blue room and probably even start to develop a preference.
Goal = Predictability
Our goal is to develop a predictable routine to help our students anticipate what they will do each day. They sit at the same tables and do they types of work at each table. Since verbal language and socially cues can be difficult for children with autism, when the same physical areas are used for the same types of tasks – students know what is expected of them and what they will be doing when they arrive at a center.