Get Ready to Get Organized: Daily Routines to Set Your Classroom Up for Success
"Take excellent care of the front end of your day, and the rest of your day will pretty much take care of itself." Robin Sharma, author of The 5 AM Club, identifies how crucial morning routines are to a person's productivity and clarity.
The way you begin your day is everything. The choices you make each morning have the power to impact the rest of your day positively or negatively.
The same applies to routines you create for your students:
Take excellent care at the beginning of the school year, and the rest of the year will pretty much take care of itself.
Well, at least in the way of organization. What kind of routines are in place so that both you and your students thrive?
This blog post will examine the benefits of routines, the most common practices for teachers, and how to implement them in your classroom, even now. So if you're thinking to yourself, "It's already the end of the school year-it's a wash; better luck next year." Not true. While setting up your routines and procedures at the beginning of the school year is beneficial, it's more than okay to put them in place when you see fit. So, there's still time to get routines to help you through to the very last day of school.
The benefits of daily routines in the classroom
There are many benefits to having a classroom routine. You've likely witnessed the chaos after the first fire drill of the school year.
Students like predictability because it sets them up for success. It gives them more independence, enabling them to engage in their learning with more confidence. When they always know what will happen next, they learn responsibility and accountability. Not only that, establishing clear expectations of routines helps eliminate negative behaviors. When there's a specific way to do something, and you've established and practiced the procedures, students feel empowered to follow it. Routines create structure and order for you and your students.
Important daily routines to consider for your classroom
While every teacher and classroom has its unique learning ecosystem, there are many common routines to consider. Below is a list of routines to think about for the beginning of class, the middle of class, and the end of class.
It's important to greet your students at the door. A greeting allows students to speak to you in a friendly way. It also indirectly tells students they're entering your classroom. Some elementary teachers have a list of visual greeting cues students choose from to indicate how they'd like to be greeted for the day. Allowing choice is a great way to build rapport, but it also helps you identify if a student is having a tough time and needs more support.
Entering/exiting the classroom
Practice the routine for entering and leaving the classroom. For example, do you want your students to enter quietly, sit down, and work on independent tasks? If so, this will need to be modeled and practiced, but your students will be able to do it after several tries.
Likewise, how do you want your students to exit the classroom?Do you want them to copy their homework at the end of class? How do you want students to submit work? What should exiting the classroom look and sound like? Determine your preference, and then practice, practice, practice!
Turning in work
There needs to be a designated area for younger students to submit their work. This may be true for older students unless there's a digital space for them to hand in work. Determine how you'd like to collect everything. Would you prefer you collect their work, or would you instead designate a paper collector to do this task? Many classroom tasks like collecting work and sharpening pencils can be made into classroom jobs for students to complete.
You'll need to figure out the organization of your lessons and the flow of your classroom to determine transition procedures.
There will be times when students have to move, change seats, or do activities, so determining how transitions will happen in your classroom is extremely important. This can be the defining line between chaos and control. If you walk into a well-prepared classroom in any school, look at how students behave during transitions. This is when most classroom management issues occur, so it's best to thoughtfully plan the routine for transitions in your classroom.
There will be times when you need to meet with a student one-on-one or in small groups, so create a routine for independent work. How do you want your students to complete independent tasks? What should a student do once the task is completed? If a student needs your assistance, how can they get it without interrupting the rest of the class? Consider these questions, and then plan accordingly.
Going to the bathroom
The routine for bathroom procedures depends on the teacher's preference and the age group or grade level taught. Some schools have strict bathroom rules, while others leave the procedures up to the teacher.
Determine how you'd like students to go to the bathroom. Some teachers prefer when a student raises their hand and asks. Some teachers demonstrate the sign for the bathroom as a nonverbal way to communicate. While still, other teachers prefer students to get up, sign out, and leave without requesting permission. This is up to the teacher's discretion, their style, and what's developmentally appropriate for the age group they teach. But, students will need to leave the classroom for the bathroom, the nurse's office, and early dismissals, so it's best to consider how you'd like this to look in your classroom.
There are many more routines to consider when planning, but these are a few universal procedures every teacher should think about. The best way is to consider your personality, teaching style, and student age group and then plan.
Routines help everyone in the classroom
The only way to create daily routines is through careful planning and consistent practice.If you ever feel chaotic in your lesson planning or you don't know where to begin with classroom routines, it's best to create a master list of everything you want to accomplish.
This will help you get focused on what's most important to you, and you can always return to your list and add or modify it as you go.
Creating your master routine list in June is a great way to prepare yourself for the following year. Everything is still fresh in your mind, so you will likely have an easier time creating the routines that are more important to you.
There's a direct correlation between well-thought-out classroom routines and procedures and classroom management. When everything is in place, and students understand the expectations, it minimizes the mental energy everyone expends. You won't need to waste your precious resources when there's a well-established plan of action, and your students will thrive in the positive environment you created. Win-win.