The Value of Routine

Routines can allow life (and your classroom) to be a little bit predictable. I have always hated and fought routine although I am finding that their presence in my classroom frees me to be more creative and effective as a teacher.

The fish in the picture to the left were some we saw in a glass bottom boat tour on our cruise this summer. Each day at the same time and in the same manner, this glass bottom boat crew goes to feed the fish oatmeal.

The fish know what to expect. They flock and feed because they know there will be food (and safety) from those on the boat. It is an ideal (albeit artificial) situation for their feeding.

There is a comfort in routine for students.
How will I know what is for homework? How do I know what to do upon entering the room? What do I do upon leaving the classroom? How do I get papers back?

This year I've really focused on honing my procedures for entering, leaving, and running my classroom. Thus far, two days into school, I am extremely pleased and am finding that the systems I've put in place have helped me to focus on my primary job: teaching.

Although my anti-routine psyche tries to rebel, I am firmly convinced that this is a discipline of a good teacher. For in the midst of the creativity and uncertainty about the CONTENT of what I will be teaching that day, there is a routine that undergirds how we do things. It just helps the learning process and ultimately helps me.

So, don't be like me as I began teaching and think that procedures will limit you. Procedures and routines have been one of the most freeing things I've ever implemented. Check out my post on the first days of school for how I've done it.

With routines, good planning, and a passion for teaching, perhaps you'll find your students swarming like mine do to learn the latest information from you!

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Andrew Pass Educational Services, LLC August 15, 2006 - 12:28 am

I couldn’t agree more about the importance of routines. As students learn what the routines are, classes begin to run themselves. Imagine if your students are working on a project in class, never having to say anything to the entire class because the students will know exactly what is expected of them. This frees you to do the important things, such as work with individual students and facilitate deeper learning. Even if some students never achieve deep thinking, the very fact that you have more time to work with them will help them think at a deeper level than they would have thought if you had not worked with them.

Andrew Pass

emily August 15, 2006 - 2:08 am

routines were the foundation for my success as a first-year teacher last year…

at home i am crazy, cluttered, free-spirit.

but i found sanity in being organized and keeping my high school students to a regimen of sorts…
good notes!

Karyn Romeis August 15, 2006 - 8:27 am

As a kid, I was all over the place – totally disorganised and never able to get a handle on anything. As an adult, I became a slave to lists and routines. When my older son was 5, he was diagnosed with ADD (note: in the intervening years I have come to dispute the existence of this disorder, but that’s for another time), the psychologist looked at me and said, “But you have it, too”. He identified my routines and lists as a compensation for my own attention deficit.

As it turned out, routine and pattern was exactly what was recommended for my son (since we opted not to go for Ritalin – a schedule 7 drug) and it has proved to be the best thing for him – that and a balanced diet. It provided him with a framework to his day, leaving him with smaller, manageable parcels of time inbetween scheduled activities (meals, bath time, bed time, etc.) reducing the burden of planning and decision-making. It proved less overwhelming for him, and gave him security. Now that he his preparing for his GCSEs, he is going to need to take control of his time to a greater extent, as he plans and carries out his coursework. Hopefully, we have built up to this gradually enough so that he will be ready for it.

I still have moments in life where I feel as if the string has snapped and I’m left scrabbling to hold the beads together in my hands, while some of them disappear under the furniture. I don’t suppose that will ever change. These days, I set reminders for myself on my calendar or my phone.

I’m sure your less organised learners find security in the routine.

Kaj Rietberg August 15, 2006 - 7:24 pm

I believe that children can grow when the enviroment is secure and safe for them. A part of a safe enviroment is when children know what they can do.

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