Here are some of the most successful parts of routine that I have used in the classroom since I started teaching. You may love them or hate them…!
#1 Greeting students at the door and smiling…a lot
I want the first time I meet students to be really positive. If they feel welcomed and safe in your company, they are more likely to seek your help when they are finding work difficult and they are more likely to make contributions to class discussion. Standing at the front of class whilst students come in also means you can address any potential issues.
#2 Ensuring the title/date and learning focus is on the board
However you decide to start the lesson, having something for students to be getting on with straight away is a positive. My students read for ten minutes at the start of each lesson, but I always have the title up so they can reconnect to the big picture. This should be no different in September – even a simple ‘Welcome’ reassures them as they anticipate what to expect and feel more secure.
#3 Explain behaviour for learning expectations
Rather than dictating these to students, I have an open and frank discussion about how they would like the atmosphere and environment in the classroom to be. Try to keep this as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible so that they remember the key rules easily. We also talk about why we have these expectations and why we behave in certain ways – naturally, this approach works best with younger students.
Each of my classes have a star chart. In the first lesson, I ask them to fill out their names and I explain how it works. When they go above and beyond in their learning or in their behaviour – being really helpful, or creating an amazing piece of work, for example, they receive a star. At certain points, they are rewarded with postcards, merits, phone calls home and a certificate. It’s important to establish a clear approach towards the stars; I am very careful not to award for basic expectations. It’s also important to be fair in how the stars are being awarded, otherwise arguments will inevitably unfold!
#5 Tidying away
At the end of the first lesson, I leave plenty of time to explain the clearing away process before allowing students to actually do it. No doubt, this makes me sound like a control freak, but by maintaining calm and avoiding a rush, students then remember what the atmosphere at the end of a lesson should be. Asking them to stand quietly is also important for me before students are dismissed – this is mainly because I can say goodbye in a polite and positive way.