Five Tips Assistants Can Use to Help Promote Student Independence
- When Entering the Room and Starting Class…If seats are not assigned, then allow your student to choose where to sit & do not pick a seat for him. Do not take out your student’s materials (pen, homework, etc.) or open his books for him (unless he has a physical disability that requires this level of help).
- Know Your Place. Have your student work in groups/partnerships with peers; the adult should NOT be her partner. Do not sit directly next to your student throughout the entire class period (i.e., circulate in the classroom when appropriate). If the student is working independently or in a group successfully, the adult can periodically “check in” with her then move away.
- During the Class…Remind your student of what to do in class by pointing out what his peers are doing. Toward the end of class, remind your student to check his schedule to see what comes next and where he is going, instead of telling him what is next.
- When Transitioning in the Hallways…Encourage your student to “walk ahead” of you and then maintain line of sight supervision, instead of walking directly next to her (unless a significant safety issue has been identified). Usually, if the student is moving a short distance for a class, the adult does not need to walk directly next to her during the transition. If the student is traveling a greater distance, try to partner her with a peer (i.e., “transition buddy”) to accompany her to the destination. Have your student carry her own materials (books, laptop, etc.) to and from class. If she is not able to do so, ask the teacher or CST how to address the issue. (The student may need to store certain items in a classroom or stop at her locker more often.)
- Always Remember to encourage people to speak directly to your student; do not play “translator” for him. Try to encourage your student to communicate, instead of “mind reading” your student’s wants and/or needs; he must learn to express these himself (verbally, with a gesture or using an augmentative communication device).
© NJCIE, 2012