Classroom routines are key to a well-managed and organised classroom. They set behavioural guidelines for students during daily events like taking attendance, starting a class period, turning in assignments, and possible minor interruptions, such as a student’s broken pencil or the arrival of a note from the administration. Routines help inform students what to expect, what is expected of them and what is acceptable behaviour. Routines that require interaction between teacher and student or among students, also serve to positively reinforce interpersonal communication and social skills.
Research in classroom management shows that it is more effective to build positive behaviours than to control negative student behaviour. Breaking of rules have consequences/punishments while error in routine only needs a reminder. Fewer rules but more routines and procedures will enable active and engaging classes.
At the start of the academic year, teachers must devote some time during every class, to teach and practise procedures. Students will take time to understand the rules and routines and remember them. A great method to handle this is to have the class brainstorm on necessary routines and discuss examples of demonstrating them. Involving students in the decision-making process in the classroom gives students ownership and thus more responsibility in managing their own class.
How to select and establish classroom routines
Recurring and predictable classroom events can be identified as administrative procedures, instructional tasks, and interactive routines.
Administrative procedures include activities such as organising books, bags and stationery; using the washroom; taking attendance; making announcements; and dismissing students.
Instructional tasks include getting every student’s attention for instruction; reviewing spelling words or numerical problems on the board; ensuring that students behave in ways that maximise positive outcomes during class; handing in or returning class and home work; and having a set process for how students should write in their notebooks and diaries.
Interactive routines include knowing how to participate in discussions, behaving in groups, and following rules for getting the teacher’s attention.
Classroom routines will vary according to teaching approaches, grade level, and students’ individual abilities. It would be good practice to discuss and concur on a set of uniform procedures with other teachers, for the ease of the students’ understanding.
A General Set of Classroom Routines:
1. Beginning the Day
As soon as students enter the classroom, their backpacks, snacks, umbrellas etc., which are not required during classes, should be put away. After that, students can organise themselves for the morning assembly or submit their homework. Teachers may also ask students about the things to be updated at this time like flexible seating arrangements, attendance counts, blackboard cleaning.
2. Ending the Day
At the end of the day, there should be allotted time for the students to put all their materials away, clean their desks and pack bags. They should be dismissed only when the class is organized, chairs are stacked, and any litter picked from the floor.
3. Lining Up
In lower grades, it is difficult to line up the students efficiently. They should be taught to wait until their row or name is called to grab any material or to put away their supplies. Higher grade students must be taught an order or arrangement to line up, according to their height or name. The importance of lining up silently should be taught to students.
4. Entering and Leaving the Room
Students should remain silent while entering or leaving the classrooms. They must not disturb classmates or other classes when going to the bathrooms, leaving early, coming late, during lunch or assemblies.
5. Using the Washroom
Students should inform the teacher about their whereabouts before leaving the class, to ensure safety. And not more than one student should be allowed to leave to use the restroom.
6. Additional Procedures
- Snack time - Where to eat, for how long and cleaning up
- Going to the office - when getting picked up or visiting the nurse
- How to behave when there are classroom visitors
- What to do during assemblies
- Where, when, and how to submit homework
- Returning classroom supplies to their places
- Handling classroom equipment like scissors, maps, and blackboard
- Getting ready for lunch, recess, or special events
- Transitioning to the next class
- How to safely use a computer
There is no limit to how many routines and procedures a class can have, but teachers must make sure all students understand and are able to follow them. Afterall, routines and procedures form the framework for effective teaching.