Independent Work Stations

If you are an educator of students with special needs looking for classroom setup ideas to support your students’ learning and development, independent work stations may be a great fit!

According to the University of North Carolina’s TEACCH Autism Program, independent work systems in classrooms promote greater independence for students and a better understanding of expectations during class times.  

The independent work station should help answer four questions for your student:

  • What do I do? (what is the student’s task?)
  • How much do I do? (do they have more than one task to complete)
  • How will I know I am finished?
  • What do I do when I am finished?

Watson’s special education consultants have curated a selection of independent work systems and set-ups as references for educators setting up their own stations for students. You don’t have to follow these systems exactly, but there are a few elements that you should include:

  • Tiered bins/shelves for “tasks to be completed” placed on the left side of (or on a shelf above) the student’s desk. They should be numbered to reflect the order in which they should be completed.
  • A mini-schedule or numerical sequence that indicates how many tasks the student is expected to complete and what their reward will be at the completion of those tasks.
  • A bin/shelf to the right of the student’s desk for completed tasks/assignments to be placed.

Get creative and use what you already have in your classroom to create the spaces! Also, be sure to adapt the labeling system and materials in the work stations to meet the unique needs of your students.

The special education resources on this page were authored by: Lisa Plastino, M.Ed.

Independent Work PowerPoint Presentation

The concept of independent work stations was developed from the TEACCH model.  More specific information can be found on the TEACCH website.

If you have questions or concerns about the Watson Institute’s use of this information, please contact us.