What would happen if I didn’t show up one day? How would you learn on your own?
My goal as a teacher was to have my students be so engaged in the learning process, that if for some reason I didn’t show up, the students still continued learning on their own.
At the beginning of the year, this goal had more to do with the students learning routines and procedures so that they could internalize them. If I’m not here, will you know how to complete daily tasks? After modeling and a great deal of practice, students were eventually able to complete classroom routines and procedures without any prompting.
By the end of the year, my goal was more related to students driving their their own learning. If I don’t show up, how will you continue your learning today? What will you do to continue your growth as a learner? This is a lot more difficult than having students internalize routines, because it asks students to reach a state of intrinsic motivation. Students are asked to learn for the sake of learning. This should be the ultimate goal of every classroom.
So, as the school year begins, ask your students, “What will you do if I don’t show up?” Hold students to high expectations and focus on modeling the types of behaviors you would like to see from students. Be sure to dedicate plenty of time for students to learn and practice routines. Most importantly, allow students to take ownership over their learning for those days when you are not there.