A Few Key Ideas
- Be proactive. Think ahead about the most important routines students need to remember so that the first few days run smoothly. Revisit these routines before (or just as) they’re needed.
- Be clear about purpose. Following routines shouldn’t be an exercise in compliance for students. Make sure to remind students why each routine is important. (“Walking quietly in the halls allows other classes to stay focused.” “Making eye contact while conferring in writing helps you listen well and show respect for your partner.”)
- Don’t overdo it. Use the various strategies listed below to give students just the right amount of revisiting—enough so they can be successful but not enough so they get bored or feel condescended to.
- Observe your students. Don’t worry if you don’t anticipate every routine that might need attention. Watch your students, and you’ll quickly see which ones you missed!
Strategies for Revisiting Routines
- Brief demo: If seeing a positive model of a behavior or routine might be helpful, give a brief demonstration or ask a student to give one. (“Let’s remember how we use our chill out chair to regain self-control. Who can show us what that looks like?”)
- Abbreviated modeling: When more than a brief demo is needed, you might use a couple of the steps of effective modeling. For example, you might state the goal, give a brief demo, and then have all students practice.
- Ask for revisions: Were there some routines that weren’t working well? If so, ask the class for ideas about ways to adjust. “I remember that our routine for putting away devices was a bit bumpy before vacation. Who has an idea for how we might make it better?”
In addition to helping reestablish a smooth and efficient classroom, there are a couple of other benefits to revisiting routines in early January. For students who had little structure or supervision over vacation, this is a chance for them to recalibrate and get back into school mode. It also gives you a chance to reestablish your authority as they leader of the classroom. Also, remember that students may have lost some school stamina over vacation, and many are certainly tired. Reviewing routines gives you a chance to slide back into school gently, helping students catch their breath before diving full-on into projects and complex work.
Remember to revisit routines as needed throughout the year. We can’t just teach routines in the first weeks of school and expect that to be enough!Click to tweet
Mike Anderson is an education consultant, award-winning teacher, and author of many books including What We Say and How We Say It Matter, The Well-Balanced Teacher, The First Six Weeks of School, The Research-Ready Classroom, and Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn. Learn more about Mike and his work or invite him to work with your school or district through his website: www.leadinggreatlearning.com. Connect with Mike on Twitter: @balancedteacher.