Work Boxes

Work Boxes, Work Systems AKA TEACCH System, was something I knew nothing about until I came across a blog post from Creating and Teaching, and how she uses work boxes in her classroom.  Work boxes, Work Systems and TEACCH are some of the most common names. Erin from Creating and Teaching had purchased the book Building Independence: How to Create and Use Structured Work Systems and found it very useful, as did I.

This book changed the way I did everything in my ECSE Classroom! 

The benefits are enormous for students as well as staff! Some of these include:
  • Promote independence 
  • Maintain skills that students have mastered
  • Great way to work on IEP goals and objectives 
  • Supports positive self esteem 
  • Build fluency 
  • Calms students by reducing social demands
  • Maintain engagement with tasks when not directly receiving instruction
  • Teaches life long skills that can be used across all environments
  • Allows teachers to work with others while students are actively engaged in there work jobs 
    • Taken from Building Independence: How to Create and Use Structured Work System 
Sounds great right, but what exactly is this? It starts with setting up jobs that are at students levels, jobs depend on students ability level. Jobs range from put in tasks, matching (color, letter, items), beginning sounds,  fine motor, writing, etc. The jobs themselves are endless and I will continue posting about jobs that I have used in my classroom to give you some ideas! You will need to find a location that is assessable to all students.
I turned one of my toy storage and mailboxes into where my work stations will be located, I started with 33 work stations and ended up with around 45. You will need enough stations so students are not doing the same work jobs on the same day.  Let's say you have 7 students and they are completing 3 jobs, you will need at least 21 work jobs.

Each student will need their own individual schedule, which can be up and down or left to right. In my classroom our visual schedule starts top-down so that is how I made my students individual schedules.  Schedules can be taped to the desks (or the specified location) or schedules can be movable. I made mine on stripes of card stock as the students in my classroom are always changing and space is limited.

I started all of my students out with one job and once they were able to accomplish that on their own independently (going and getting the specified box, completing the task and putting it away), then we would increase the number of tasks. The majority of my students were able to complete 3-4 jobs at a time by the end of the year. Which is something that before this work job system my students struggled with as they thrived on adult attention!

A modification that can be made is if students are unable to travel or have difficulty with attending is you can place their boxes at the location with a finished box located next to them, and they would follow their schedule and then place their jobs in the finished location once they are done.

I have also seen teachers use a drawer storage systems and just replacing the activities on a daily or subject base timeline if they have only a few students using the work system.

The main points I took away from the book (which are vital to making this system work!)  include:

1) Students need to be able to complete the task on their own (which is building independence) 

 2) Work Jobs teach students how to follow a schedule

3) When students finish their work jobs and put them away it is important to not disassemble their work in front of the student! I know this is hard, as we are all trying to save time anywhere we can, but when you do that you are stating to the child that what they did was not important 

4) Prompting needs to be faded quickly, so students don't rely on teachers or staff

5) Students need to be able to match either: shape, animals, color, letters or numbers unless you choose to use a drawer system (which limits what you can put inside)

It was extremely important to me that students were not doing the same jobs throughout the week so I documented daily what students were doing.

I have included all the visuals you need to set up 82 work systems in your own classroom. You can click on the below picture and it will take you there!

Check back to the blog for more posts in regards to work boxes or work jobs! Next week I will be giving you many different ideas for put in tasks! You already have tons of these materials in your classroom currently!! Also if you want to do this right buy the book it is amazing and gives some great ideas! 

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