Routines are essential in any well-run classroom. They reduce confusion, behaviour problems, and create a sense of security as your learners will know what to expect every day when they walk into the classroom. As you prepare for the next school year, or even if you are in the middle of one, consider all the different times that routine can be helpful in your class.
Times for Routines
Some times routines can be helpful include
- when learners arrive in the morning,
- end-of-day dismissal,
- procedures for labeling papers and turning them in,
- policies for homework/make-up work,
- when it is okay to move around the classroom,
- what to do when a learner finishes work early,
- how to ask for help, lining up procedures, etc.
Consider all parts of your daily routine as you decide when your class needs routines and established procedures.
Routines Increase Learning Time
In addition to helping you create a more efficient classroom and reducing behavior problems from confused learners, you increase the learning time in your classroom when you intentionally use them to do so.
For example, when learners are lining up, you might call on individual learners to check if they know the answer to a question about a recent lesson before you allow them to line up. During the busyness of the morning entry, learners who know exactly where to put their belongings, what to take out and put on their desks, and what work to get started on right away increase their amount of time on task. Put a list of warm-up activities on the board for them to work on when they walk in the classroom in the morning.
If you are outside or in a place where you don’t have to be silent, ask your class a question about a recent lesson as you walk in a line to another location. Have them raise one finger or two in answer to the question to which you give two possible answer choices.
Routines Create Community
When you have a morning meeting time with learners, telling them the schedule for the day, or you have a time for them to ask general questions in a whole-group setting, you help to increase their sense of community. Any routine or procedure that they understand and participate in helps to create that community. Learners know what to expect, and they are comfortable in that predictability, which makes it easier to learn.
Encourage learners to participate in creating routines. This promotes ownership of procedures so that they are more likely to follow them. This also increases the idea that learners are all part of the same group.
Teach one routine at a time. Model it for your learners repeatedly. Let them practice it several times before you have them do it “for real.” Give them room to forget a routine but to remember it the next time. It can take several days to get a whole classroom of routines up and running smoothly. If possible, establish routines from the first day of school. The faster your learners know your expectations, the less time there is wasted in confusion of not knowing what to do in a particular transition time. Be patient, but consistent in your expectations.