The new year is a good time to start a new routine or tweak an old one. A friend and colleague has made a commitment to change her bedtime routine. She has been getting to bed at 10:00 each night to get the benefits of restorative sleep, and I applaud her efforts. I am trying to work in 30 more minutes of exercise into my daily routine this year.
What about Classroom Routines?
One thing I learned from my years in the classroom was the importance of routines and procedures to an efficient learning environment. Both research and experience show that the use of well thought-out procedures and routines can go a long way toward eliminating off-task behaviors and keeping students engaged in learning.
Robert Marzano , a leading educational researcher, advocates simple and straightforward procedures that smooth out transitions and eliminate interruptions. I knew when I took my time at the beginning of each year to get students comfortable with procedures, it was always time well spent. Children like knowing what to expect. Routines and consistency create an environment where students can learn, free from distractions. Consider it an investment.
A wise principal used to say there were two “first” days of school—one in the fall and one right after winter break. When routines become a bit “relaxed” during the school year, or after a long break, it’s time to start again and reteach. Or, maybe your class is ready for something new. Regardless, the steps are the same.
- Tell students your expectations. Be explicit. Then, model the behavior.
- Give students a visual. This can be a chart on the wall or a hand-out. Make it age appropriate. One year I made a video of students as they changed classes. I filmed them as they entered my class, got seated and ready to learn. Then at the end of class, I filmed them as they lined up quietly. I played the video for them each day, before it was time to change classes. They watched the behavior I wanted them to learn. They loved seeing themselves doing it RIGHT! And I didn’t have to say a thing! Before long, they had learned the behavior.
- Reinforce the routine. This is the hard part, especially if you are trying something new or breaking bad habits. Keep the faith. It’s not easy, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board when something isn’t working. Look around, and see what works for other teachers. I got my best ideas from my colleagues. Sometimes all you need is a little adjustment in a routine, and your class will be back on track. If you do make a video, show it from time to time to get students back on track. Marzano suggests using students in leadership roles to build student buy-in.
Share with Us
Please share your routine with us. You can find us on Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. If you are a Simple Solutions user, you probably have a daily routine for using it with your students. While there are certain core elements of the program, it is flexible enough to meet the needs of all students. We have found that the Simple Solutions approach is successfully adapted in many classrooms in different ways. We love to hear what works in classrooms around the country!