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Embedding opportunities for choice in classroom and curriculum tasks can be helpful adjustments for those students who find decision-making stressful or who use inappropriate behaviour to control their environment.
Giving students a degree of autonomy through choices may reduce their need to try and take control of the class themselves. This can lead to less conflict and inappropriate behaviour in the classroom.
Why is this important?
Practicing decision making encourages independence, and builds confidence.
What do I need to consider?
Consider the desired outcome for the lesson: allow some flexibility for students to achieve the objective.
Identify multiple opportunities for student choice-making in your lesson plan:
- within choices – how to complete a particular activity
- when choices – the timing of activities, e.g., when to take a break or whether they spend 5 or 10 minutes on a preferred task
- where choices – the location of activities e.g. outside, under a tree or in the classroom
- whom choices – which students work together on an activity; whether they work in a pair or by themselves
It can be easier to choose between a small number of options rather than having to find one from a seemingly endless array of potential options.
Choose what the student/s will choose between. Offer a maximum of three possible choices. It is important that you provide choices equitable and task suitable.
- you must be happy for students to choose any of the choices on offer
By offering only choices that the teacher is happy with, the teacher remains in control of the class, but the students get a level of autonomy over the lesson.
- The objective of a lesson is for the students to write a three paragraph chapter. Allow students to choose where they do it: sitting at their desk, sitting on the floor, in the corridor outside the class.
- There are two tasks in the lesson. These are not dependent on each other. Allow the students to choose which task they would prefer to do first.
It works better if…
you present students with a maximum of three options when making a choice
you give students as many opportunities to make choices as possible
the students are given ample time to process questions and respond
It doesn’t work if…
there are too many choices
choices aren't task or age appropriate
- Present the students with decisions to be made
- include two to three possible choices during the lesson.
- Give the students adequate time to respond.
- Offer the student support in making the choice if required.
- Reinforce with verbal praise when the student has made a decision.
- Reflect on perceived efficacy of this practice and adjust accordingly.
Practice implementation planner template
We know that in the busyness of teaching it is not always easy to keep track of what is working and what is not. So, we have created this template for you to record and reflect on what you are doing to help you create a more inclusive classroom. The implementation planner contains:
- Guidance around goal setting
- Reflection section (What worked, didn’t work and what to change and next steps.)
- Prompting questions
Set your professional learning goal for:
Embedding opportunities for choice making
Benefits of goal settingSetting, working towards, and reflecting on goals helps you grow professionally and improve your practice. You can access AITSL learning resources for teachers to learn more about:
How to set goalsThe Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership recommends using the SMART matrix to frame your goal setting.
SMART goals refers to goals that are:
Taylor, A., Beamish, W., Tucker, M., Paynter. J., & Walker, S. (2018, accepted). Designing a model of practice for Australian teachers of young school-age children on the autism spectrum. Journal of International Special Needs Education.