Imagine. Students in your class are working on different parts of the same unit, different units completely, testing, or working with you on a content skill. For some this may seem overwhelming and insane, and it can be but if you have system of tracking and seating in your room this system can be manageable.
In a self-paced system, it is possible for students to be in completely different parts of your curriculum. That means it requires the teacher to be more flexible and organized in their day-to-day classroom. It really is organized chaos.
How to manage the chaos
Tracking System - This goes back to our previous self-paced post. Having a clear and organized system for tracking student progress on your end will make your life so much easier. The goal is to have system that allows you to easily pinpoint where students are at in your curriculum easily while you are up and working on all of the different pieces and have the students understand where they are at as well.
Seating Plan - This doesn’t mean having a set in stone seating plan. What this means is having a room organized to allow you and the students be working on different pieces of content in the same room. This can definitely be difficult considering all of the limitations we tend to have. Like we discussed before in our seating arrangement post, we recommend having different zones for different types of activities that come up in your curriculum like a testing area, group work area, partner section, etc. Flexible seating is also something to consider as well, since self-paced naturally lends itself to individual work and flexibility.
Concrete, Clear Procedures and Content - This is by far the #1 piece to making self-paced or anything really work in any classroom. When it comes to the self-paced classroom, the teacher needs to spend quite a bit of time teaching the students the procedures for working in the classroom. This is typical for any teacher, but in this scenario you will more than likely need to spend a little more time since this system will be pretty different from what students are used to. Major things that would need to be covered beyond the usual:
What our day-to-day is like
My classes usually start with me moving students to different work zones depending on their progress if they forget. Then I do a round of check-ins. I go to each zone and check in with students to see if they need me to sign off on work that they have completed, check what their goals are for class that day, and work on relationships. I then start on any administrative stuff I have to do like attendance or whatever. After that what usually happens is one of the following:
My system is definitely not refined yet. I am still working out some things that I want to change and improve on for next year. I have to say though that I really am loving the chaos of seeing students make connections with the content and learn how to recognize their learning process and self-regulate their learning. Even though it is chaos, I have found that I do not have as many classroom management issues with my tough classes like I did before switching to this system. That does not mean that there still isn’t classroom management issues, but I feel like they are smaller and easier to deal with on an individual basis as opposed to having the whole class issues that can pop up in a more traditional system.