Everything we do through the course of our day works best when we know and understand the routines and procedures that help us to act effortlessly with little thought. When we drive the same route to work each morning that is a routine that we have learned, practiced, and solidified in our brain so that we eventually get to a point that we do it without much effort. It is a habit we have created within ourselves from what was originally a step by step procedure. These routines and procedures operate in many different ways in our mind. Without them, things would be more difficult and time consuming.
When we first learn to fill the dishwasher as a child, we typically have an adult who directs us through the procedure of which items go where so that we can get the most out of one wash cycle. After a while this procedure becomes routine and we can work through it without trying to remember where the cups go, versus the flatware. Routines and procedures are a crucial part of an effective and well managed classroom. They help to manage classroom efficiency by giving students control over their environment. They help them to establish a predictable pattern of expectation. They can help to reduce anxiety so that students can focus and learn without fear of what to do next. Children with neurological differences, executive functioning difficulties, or even typically developing children who are new to an environment, operate best in a setting where they can work independently according to a common plan. The more consistent the environment, the more calm most students will be within it.
Classroom procedures must be taught, monitored, evaluated, and retaught. There is a cycle through which these procedures become a classroom routine. It is not something you teach the first week of school and expect students to perfectly follow for the remainder of the school year. Just like when we determine to restrict something in our own lives and over time our bad habits creep back in, students who are not reminded and redirected toward the correct execution of a procedure will not develop a proper routine. They may develop of a routine that is less than what you had hoped or worse, nothing like you had in mind. It is your job as the teacher to monitor them and provide feedback. This cycle of teaching, evaluating, correcting, and reteaching is as much a part of your job as teaching them to spell and count. One of the biggest obstacles to student learning is student behavior. Teaching them routines and procedures in a key in the process of teaching proper behavior.
Routines & Procedures may include:
Morning routine: what to do when they arrive each day. Here are some ideas:
Lunch routine: what does it take to get from the classroom to the lunchroom and back to class. What should the line look like? Where will we sit? Where are hands and feet expected to be? Who sits where? What is the voice level expectation? How do I buy my lunch? What if I brought my lunch? What is my parent is joining me for lunch?
Hallway procedures: how to walk down the hall. Where are hands, feet and mouths during this transition? Where do we stop? When do we start? How do we handle things that do not go as planned due to others in the hallway? I will cover this in more detail on a future post. Here are some ideas:
Attention Getters: Here is a great example of procedures for gaining attention:
Managing student work: turning it in, missed work, etc. Here are some real life examples:
End of day or end of class procedures: What should students do to prepare to leave you room? What should they take with them? What should they leave behind? Where should they leave materials? Here are some examples:
This is not an exhaustive list of routines and procedures for the classroom, but a good example of where to start. It is never too late to implement these in your classroom. They not only support your students need for structure, but support the teachers ability to maintain that structure.