Kids need routines and a strong set of routines will make your working day easier and less tiring. But children don’t arrive at your door pre-trained, you have to train them.
Start by deciding which parts of your day you would like to set a routine for. Write this down on a poster and make a big A3 laminated version for the wall. It’s also a good idea to display this on your whiteboard as well at the point in time where you want the routine to happen. What you’re looking for is the students carrying out the routine after hearing a given command word or phrase. And you want it to happen quickly and perfectly every time.
So how do we get to that point where the routine just happens when you say the magic words? Well the truth is that there’s actually no magic involved, you simply have to train them by repeating the actions over and over until they’re learned. Only praise and reward perfection, accept nothing else. That last bit is essential! Once taught, stick to these routines and never let them slide because routines can easily be forgotten.
Routines make our lives easier. They get the students working for us doing the jobs we don’t enjoy, keeping our classrooms tidy and making sure that everyone knows what’s expected of them at any given time. They also save large amounts of learning time by getting things done without you having to nag the kids. Just say the command phrase, step back and watch the magic happen. But remember you must train them thoroughly first!
Example entry routine for a secondary school classroom:
1. Line up in sensibly, shirts tucked in.
2. Pens and planners on the desk, bags out of the way.
3. Books out quickly, date and title written in.
4. Complete the Do Now.
Example exit routine:
1. Wait until the teacher says “OK class, it’s time to pack away”.
2. Everyone packs everything away.
3. Books in the box with care.
4. Bags on, chairs under.
These are simple steps that can be learned quickly. Don’t forget to praise only the very best examples, don’t accept half-hearted attempts.
Note step 2 above ‘Everyone packs everything away’. That means that you expect students to tidy up anything they see that needs tidying, not just the stuff they themselves used. It saves the frustrating “I didn’t get it out so I’m not packing it away” mentality.
Good luck, let me know how it goes