Grab Your Cup of Coffee and Take a Seat

This year I am mentoring a first year teacher here in my building. I find it to be a great privilege to mentor her, because I feel it is important to pass on experience and knowledge to others. This process is three years long, so by the time she has taught three years she should have a grasp of what it means to be an effective teacher.

One of the main issues that I stress to her is the fact that it doesn’t matter what you teach, what grade you teach, and where you teach at you have to establish a routine. Routines need to be simple, but yet give students an established way of doing things in your room. It also helps teachers effectively run a classroom. Before my students come into my class for the day, I always grab a cup of coffee, and review my lesson plans for the day. It helps me to be ready for the day.

It has taken a lot of time to perfect the routines in my room. I have found routines:

  • Make transitions easier: By that I mean students know that when I say certain things, or do something specific its time to get serious. For example, when a conductor steps up to the podium the band or orchestra gets their instruments ready to play. It’s the same in your classroom. Going from one activity to another is made easy by having the same routine every time.
  • Take the uncertainty out of the classroom: When students have a routine students don’t have to guess how to change from one activity to another. It’s alright to keep students on their toes during instruction, but not on how your class works. There is a reason why some restaurants work and others don’t. The manager has set a routine for the staff to follow. Staff members don’t have to guess what they have to do. They know.
  • Cuts down on downtime: Having a set routine for attendance, going to lunch, walking the halls, passing in homework, transitioning from activity to activity all help to cut down non-instructional time. The less downtime you have the more time you have to teach.
  • Help to set student behavior expectations: Students like to have routines. It creates a safe environment for them to operate in. They know what the expectations are, and they will follow them. If they don’t follow the routines they know the punishment. For students, knowing what they can do and how it is done is just as important as knowing what they can’t. Routines help students to understand your expectations, and will make your classroom a safe and predictable place to be.

When making your routines you need to make sure your routines are simple, and can be understood by all your students. It is also important to give students time to practice these routines so they become second nature. When you are thinking about making you routes for your classroom think about the following: (which I got these from here.)

  • Beginning the day
  • Entering and exiting the classroom
  • Labeling papers
  • Collection and distribution of papers
  • Signaling for quiet and attention
  • Appropriate times for moving around the room
  • Emergency drills and procedures
  • Going to the restroom
  • Moving throughout the school
  • Late arrival
  • Grading and homework policies (including make-up work)
  • Asking questions
  • Finishing an assignment early
  • Dismissal

What are your routines? What advice would you give a first year teacher about routines?


6 thoughts on “Grab Your Cup of Coffee and Take a Seat

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