Classroom routines keep you and the students sane.
Contrary to popular opinion, they don’t make the class boring, they actually free up energy and time for the fun stuff.
Routines are your best friend because they:
- Save you from having to re-invent the wheel every time you do something.
- Help even the slowest student know what’s coming next and feel confident.
- Help your classroom and behaviour management like you would not believe.
Imagine two teachers; Teacher A doesn’t have any routines, but good Teacher B does.
Teacher A does things differently every time. Not a lot, but enough that he has to explain to the students how to do things, so the students are forced to use some of their limited reservoir of attention to listen to instructions for the boring stuff. All this takes time in class. The students often get it wrong too, especially the younger learners and the lower level learners. This leads to more time wasted in correcting them. The students start to misbehave as their attention wanders.
Teacher B has a routine for all those routines. When she starts a new class, she takes some time to explain her routines. This is how we store our bags under our chairs, that is how we take attendance, this is how we divide into pairs, and so on.
Before long, Teacher B is flying through the lessons as students are used to what and how to do the routines in class. Behaviour is good as students know what is expected of them at transition points in the class. Teacher A, on the other hand, still struggles with getting his students to do what he wants them to do. As a result of this lingering uncertainty, behaviour is still an issue, and classes are that much more tiring.
Now do you see what a huge impact classroom routines can have?
OK, You’ve Convinced Me. What Routines Do I Need?
While every great teacher has their own list, there are some routines that everyone should have:
- Taking attendance
- Handing out worksheets
- Collecting worksheets / homework
- Writing on the board
- Putting class into pairs
- Giving instructions [link]
- Taking out / putting away materials
- Asking questions
- Answering questions
- Going the to the bathroom
- Finishing work early
OK, but what about the procedures?
Well, I could list every single step of every single procedure I use, but I’m not going to. I’m just lazy like that. No, really, every teacher does these slightly differently because everyone has their own preferences.
I’d suggest observing your colleagues, or asking them how they do each one of these that you want to implement. Try out their suggestion, if you like it, keep it, if not, ask around again.
Find out what works for you!