Effective Classroom Routines
Updated: Feb 20, 2022
In this Teach With Max blog post, I will explain the importance of classroom routines and explain why they are essential.
What are routines and why are they important?
Classroom routines are procedures that ensure pupils complete transitions, tasks, activities and procedures efficiently and appropriately.
Why are classroom routines important?
Routines reduce the likelihood of misbehaviour by removing distractions and making the classroom a secure and predictable environment to learn. This is particularly important for pupils with special educational needs. At the beginning of the academic year, spending time creating and implementing routines in line with your school's ethos will save teachers a load of stress throughout the year. It will help support children's development of emotional self-regulation and ensure that the class can spend as much time learning as possible.
Various classroom routines should feature in your teaching practice.
Greeting children at the door
Clearly set expectations must be set from the moment pupils walk into the classroom. Greeting children at the classroom door as they enter in the morning is one opportunity to do this. By greeting pupils at the door you can get to know them by asking questions, and you can also positively reinforce behavioural expectations - a great way to start the day.
On occasions, pupils may need to be reminded of the behaviour you want to see, for example, " Don't forget to tuck your shirt in so we all look really smart".
I also use positive language when talking to pupils, such as, "I'm looking forward to seeing you work as hard as you did yesterday".
Although meeting and greeting parents is a lot easier at the end of the day, greeting pupils at the door can provide opportunities to build a rapport with parents and give them quick comments and feedback about their children.
One thing is guaranteed, unless there is a purposeful task for pupils to start completing when they enter the classroom, they will start playing up and getting very noisy! After pupils have entered the classroom, there will always be a task ready to complete and accompanying broken down instructions of my expectations. This is usually only 5 minutes long and is a task that can be completed independently. I often plan a short writing task (spellings, creative writing and other SPaG related tasks).
Getting pupils' attention
Getting the attention of your pupils' is a tricky skill to master, but one that is key for any teacher. There are multiple strategies that teachers can use, and I use a range of them (clapping a pattern, counting down, a bell, using my voice). Whatever you decide to use, it's essential to keep it consistent and remember that different techniques will work for different age groups and classes.
Instruction for getting pupils' attention should be specific and observable. For example, I will say, "Pencils down and eyes on me please".
Instructions should also be sequential and given in the exact order you want pupils to follow them. For example, I will say, "Finish the sentence you are writing, pencils down, cross your arms and look this way to show me that you are listening".
It's two minutes from lunchtime, and everyone is hungry and ready for a break. In an attempt to get your next cup of coffee from the staffroom as quickly as possible, you say, "Lunchtime, off you go". Tables and chairs go flying, and pens, pencils, scrap paper and pencil sharpenings are left scattered across the table, and 50% of the water bottles get knocked over. Rowdy exits should be avoided at all costs!
Expectations may vary from school to school, but I will ask children to:
Tidy tables, chairs and learning spaces
Chairs are pushed under
Pupils leave in an orderly manner
To support this, I will often incorporate exit tickets into the exit routine and release pupils in groups rather than at the same time.
Teachers should consider that some pupils will know how to behave in the classroom and others will not. Pupils who don't know how to behave in class will need to be taught, and in doing so, you are helping them flourish in the classroom.
Lastly, to teach effective routine, teachers should do the following:
Be clear on what you want pupils to do (specific, sequential and manageable).
Teach and model routines in small steps.
Practise routines at the beginning of the year until it meets expectations.
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