The Importance of Routine
It is an accepted truth that students like clarity, fairness and boundaries. Without boundaries, they feel less safe and secure, without fairness they feel unmotivated and without clarity they don’t know how to do the right thing. It is also true that every parenting book ever written will, at some point, talk about catching them being good, about promoting positive behaviour. I think being clear about expectations, including classroom routines, allows students to know how to be good.
It also gives clarity to parents and they know that they will be getting the same message from every teacher their child has and every senior member of staff that they speak to. Parents may not always agree with what we do, or how we do things but the strength of the same message being delivered day after day will earn respect and mutual understanding.
Tom Bennett, at the start of the Spring term, blogged about this, focusing on the need for class routines and getting students to practise them until they got them right. Well, I believe we can go even further, because, if the entire school, every teacher in every classroom, has the same expectations and uses the same language, we achieve utter clarity. No student should ever get into the situation where they do the wrong thing unknowingly. Every student, everywhere, will practise those routines every day.
In ‘Teach Like a Champion’ Doug Lemov’s 30th Technique is ‘Tight Transitions’. By transitions, he means times when students move from place to place or activity to activity. He points out that when they’re in transition, they’re not learning and says that transitions have ‘an immense if generally underacknowledged influence on the learning that happens before and after.’ If we can cut a minute apiece from the transitions that take place in our school each day, and sustain that improvement for 190 school days, practically speaking, we would add a week’s worth of learning to our school year.
So our routines at Towers have clarity. We expect students to line up and enter in silence, using ‘Entry 1...2...3’. We expect them to start work immediately on their review activity. We expect STAR behaviours from everyone, using this language to reinforce and be consistent. We exit in a structured way using ‘Exit 1...2...3’. Students walk on the right in school buildings. Our boundaries are clear, are shared and are used by every teacher in every room. Students know exactly what they need to do in order to do the right thing. We are consistent and we are fair.
It takes effort, repetition, constant reinforcement. But it’s working.
An extra week of learning - That has to be worth it.
By Tara McVey