Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How I Get My Ducks In A Row With Classroom Routines!


Routines create a pattern that students can count on so they knew what to expect which helps to create stability and a positive classroom environment.


Ok, I'll admit it.  I love routines.  Why?  I think it's because they create stability and order.  And when you teach Middle School, that can be hard to come by.  After all, many of the students are characterized as "hormones with feet" and with their changing bodies and changing perceptions, their sense of security is definitely diminished.

So here is an opportunity for me to create a space where calm amidst the chaos can prevail.  Take, for example, my specific entering routine:

1.  I greet students at the door.
2.  Students pick up their materials.
3.  The bell rings and I play an inspiring song in the background.
4.  Students write in their planners and then begin the bell work.  (I take attendance.)
5.  I come around and initial planners and answer questions.
6.  The song ends and I announce that there are X number of minutes to complete the bell work.
7.  I come to the front of the room and welcome everyone.  Then we review the learning target and homework due date.
8.  Now we go over the bell ringer.


Believe it or not, this entire procedure takes only about 8 - 10 minutes once we get into the routine.  But you can see that for me, bell ringers are a necessary part of getting everyone in and settled.

I generally use bell ringers as an opportunity to review and practice.  If you use bell work for this too, then you might be interested in these Middle School Mentor Sentences that are all ready to go and focused on perseverance using an original text about Walt Disney.

Here's a Month of perseverance themed bellringers all based on an original non-fiction text about Walt Disney. Supporting growth mindset, the topic of perseverance is perfect for the beginning of the year!
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It takes several days to completely teach a routine like this, but I think Bell Ringers are essential to creating a classroom community.  Why?  They become part of a routine that satisfies a need for safety that comes from order.  

So, how do I do this?
A little bit at a time.
Last week, I modeled coming into the room with my own book bag and materials.  I actually pretended to be a student and even sat at a student desk.  The kids chuckled, but instead of me just explaining it, I showed it to them.  Then, the students practiced.  
They practiced the routine, you ask?  Yes!  This is how we all learn, right?  This applies to routines too!  After we have the coming in part down, then we add in planners.  Once the students can come in and write in their planners, then we add in the bell work.  One step at a time - I think I can, I think I can.  :)

Now here's my full disclosure:  I've been doing this for 22 years.  So I know how this will turn out.  Entering the class using this routine will become a habit.  So much so that when there is a new student, they confidently show it to that student - or an administrator - or anyone who asks.  They are confident because they know they can depend on it.  And in a world where change is the norm, it's nice to have a little bit of predictability in one's life.

Do you have routines in your classroom?  Join in the conversation in the comments below!



2 comments:

  1. I began using songs that are programmed on my computer to play at certain times during a class. We have a certain song that begins to.play signaling to students that they have 1 minute until they should be logged into our class, page, their agenda up, and warm-up work started. I also have a song that plays a minute and 30 seconds before the end of class that signals all.students to put up.their I pads, and calculators. This is the 1st year I have used this and it has made my life much easier. I know that my kids (11th graders) enjoy the consistency it provides.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I began using songs that are programmed on my computer to play at certain times during a class. We have a certain song that begins to.play signaling to students that they have 1 minute until they should be logged into our class, page, their agenda up, and warm-up work started. I also have a song that plays a minute and 30 seconds before the end of class that signals all.students to put up.their I pads, and calculators. This is the 1st year I have used this and it has made my life much easier. I know that my kids (11th graders) enjoy the consistency it provides.

    ReplyDelete