Independent Work is the Key to Classroom Success

Independent work is one of the pillars of a successful classroom. Many of our classrooms are understaffed and overcrowded. Our students are likely doing independent work for more of the day than we’d prefer but we gotta work with what we’ve got. Or maybe you are one of the lucky few (#jealous) who are in a perfectly staffed classroom. Well, even if you are in that situation it’s still imperative to have independent work within your room. The skill of working on their own is one of the most important and valuable life skills we can give our students. In order to have a job, go to the grocery store, or order a cheeseburger at McDonalds you need to know how to complete tasks on your own. The job part is key. Any and every job will require independent work. We need to teach our students (even our young students) to work with less and less adult help for longer and longer times.

This situation is a win/win. Independent work is an essential life skill for your students to learn and it gives you the chance to work in small groups with other students.

Independent work is important throughout the year but it is ESPECIALLY important in the start of the year. In the start of the year, there is SO MUCH TO DO. You are working hard to set up those routines and establish yourself as a reinforcer. Then you need to train your paraprofessionals, implement behavior plans, begin assessments,  and take baseline data. I’m tired just writing that all out. Now if you think your students are going to sit nicely with their hands folded while you do all that – you have lost your damn mind. You need to ensure your students are engaged and working at all times. That means load up on the independent work at the start of the year!

If you want to accomplish this month’s routines and reinforcement goal – independent work is the key! We have talked a lot about independent work this summer. My favorite systems are the numbered bin system, binders, and checklists.

When it comes to independent work, think outside the box. It can be coloring, word searches, puzzles, life skill tasks, standing work, and more! The sky is the limit. The only goal is that your student is appropriate completing the task without you!


  1. How do you begin implementing independent work tasks with students who do not like to sit to do work? I have work boxes for my kids but whenever I go to work with another student they hop up and walk away. How do you get them to stay with that work box until completion?

  2. HI Sasha!!
    I am a HUGE fan of your stuff and LOVE reading your blog!! I am interested in setting up a binder system, what sets do you put in them? I have been reading to see if I can find what you use but I don’t see it.
    Thanks so much!!

  3. Work on fading your prompts! Gradually decrease your help and then decrease how close you are sitting. Also make sure you are using a high-powered reinforcer that they always get after. It’s a process but so worth it!

  4. Can you share a link to the markers your students use in the independent notebooks (laminated or sheet protectors) ?

  5. Regular expo dry erase markers! Erase with dry paper towel, hand sanitizer, magic erasers, or clorox wipes!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest