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October 4, 2012

Routines. . . Not Just for your Students!

Most of us are heavily focused on teaching various routines to our students at the start of the school year: how to enter the classroom, how to hand in homework, procedures for using bathroom passes, ways to get classwork if absent, etc. We invest so much time up front, hoping these routines go on autopilot and become so smooth we can move on and deal with the real business of teaching.

But wait, have you thought to harness the power of routines for yourself, too? As Scholastic’s great teacher blog notes, “Routines don’t just make your life easier; they save valuable classroom time!”

Let’s look at how two teachers have tried to make their limited “flexible” time more productive through use of their own PERSONAL routines.

George W., a middle school teacher in New Orleans, outlined all of his routines in this version of the Weekly Worksheet

George's Weekly Worksheet

George carries this Weekly Worksheet around with him all day. The minute he hits one of these time periods, he gets to work. And, if something unexpectedly comes up (as we know it occasionally will!), George can flexibly move things around. He is aware of all the planning and grading work on his plate in a week’s time.

Heidi J., a third-grade teacher in New Orleans, made herself a classroom poster as a visual reminder of what she needs to do to open and close each day.

We know the lamination on Heidi’s poster makes it more challenging to read (but we couldn’t resist sharing because we love that she has it taped to her desk!). Below, we’ve also included a table outlining Heidi’s Daily Morning and End-of-Day Routines. We love how her routines are such concrete tasks.

Heidi describes how writing these out has made such a positive impact on her teaching: “It focuses me on what has to be accomplished before I tackle the day’s To-Do List. Without it, I would be frantically running around trying to accomplish a variety of things without ever feeling like I did anything. This is my list of Non-Negotiables.”

Heidi's RoutinesWhile some of these routines may seem obvious, when you are struggling to wake up in the morning and/or exhausted at the end of the day, it is a welcome respite to just glance at your list and work your way through the tasks you’ve already laid out for yourself. Both George and Heidi carefully consider their energy levels, and only take on certain tasks at certain times. They also delegate to students whenever possible!

Together Teacher Sharing Question: Is there anything on your list you can routinize and make more predictable for yourself?

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