I am well aware I have particular routines which I stick to religiously both at work and at home. However, I have come to find my obsession with routines has had a positive impact in my classroom and is something I now see as an important part of my behaviour management toolbox.
Why I like routines
Routines mean nothing is left to the unexpected. Students like to know exactly what to expect and how things will be done For example, what do students do when they enter your classroom? Where do they put their bags? What equipment do they need? Where do they sit? What do they do upon entry, do they write the date and title? Or is there an exam question for them? These are all questions students have to deal with when entering each teacher’s classroom. The anticipation of the unexpected can be tiresome for students and when most secondary school students often have more than ten teachers, can become rather exhausting. With a fixed routine I have found my students know exactly what to do as they enter my classroom. Clear entry routines means my classroom is ordered, calm, quiet and students quickly get on with the task at hand. I have found I can take the register quickly, speak to individual students, who owe homework for example, and generally get the lesson started quicker than if there was no routine in place.
Routines set high standards for all students. For something to be a routine is has to be elicited in every lesson. Allowing some students to come in one lesson, have a chat or sit in another seat as a one-off will only lead to poor behaviour and lower standards. Routines are an example of proactive management, organising the classroom and learners to enable a productive learning environment. Having a high learning standards promotes a positive and successful culture for learning.
Time saving! Firstly, it saves me time from battling with students. They know exactly what to expect from me, they know what learning looks like in my classroom and therefore what is expected of them behaviour wise. I spend less time engaging in conversations about small behaviour issues and more time teaching. As teachers we have 101 things to think about, I often refer to it as having 15 tabs open on a web browser. By having a clear routine I spend more time thinking about other parts of my lesson rather than the small issues of getting the students quiet and ready to work.
An example of where my routines have had a clear impact was when I was given a present from a student. This lovely student happens to be obsessed with Lego and we have had many conversations about Lego this past year, I have learnt a lot! I was handed a female Lego robot, apparently she had to find me the right character which represented me. When I asked why I was a robot, her response was ‘you say the same thing when I come into your classroom, underline your date and title, you’re a robot!’ I have taken this as a positive as she can often be seen a poorly behaved student in school, but for me, every page in her book the date and title is underlined and she has even taken it upon herself to hand out rulers to those students who need them at the beginning of the lesson!
Henley. M., (2010) Classroom Management: A Proactive Approach. 2nd Edition. Pearson.