Choice making

Embedding opportunities for choice making

teaching practice
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For student year

Middle years

Helps students to

  • make decisions
  • build independence
  • Helps teachers to

  • engage students
  • encourage independence
  • Summary

    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. 

    Preparing to teach

    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. 

    Examples 
    1. 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. 
    2. 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

    In the classroom

    Decision making

    • 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 toolkit

    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

    Implementation planner template

    Implementation planner with examples

    Set your professional learning goal for:

    Embedding opportunities for choice making
    You can set and save your goal for inclusive practices using inclusionED. Saved goals will appear in your profile. Here you can access, refine and review your goal easily.

    Benefits of goal setting

    Setting, 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 goals
    The Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership recommends using the SMART matrix to frame your goal setting.

    SMART goals refers to goals that are:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Relevant
    • Time-phased
    Read more about Improving teaching practices.

    Resources

    Further reading

    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.

    Related Practices

    This practice is from the core research project

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