Routine Matters

Jul 31 / Angel McNabb Staley

It's about "that" time! Educators and kids alike are mentally (and physically) preparing for back-to-school. To ensure a less-stress, successful school year, be sure to implement a positive routine that is beneficial to your mental and physical well-being for you and your students.

Why we need routine:

One of the kindest things we can do for ourselves is to implement a positive morning routine. This doesn't have to be anything CRAZY, just moderate little adjustments to what you already do (showering, brushing your teeth, having breakfast, etc.) Here are some easy-to-add activities that can help you start your day with a positive state-of-mind! 

1. Before you do ANYTHING, begin with appreciation! Don't look at your phone or turn on the tv. Start with at least three things/people you appreciate and a small thought or note of why you appreciate these things/people. This is a great space for beginning a journal habit if you don't already. Starting your day with a positive attitude of appreciation sets  your brain up to look for the positive in everything or the day! 

2. Send a kind note or call someone with a kind message. (It can even be yourself-especially if you struggle with positive self-talk!) It can be as simple as, "Hey! I woke up with you on my mind and wanted to let you know I am thinking of you! I hope you have a great day!" 

3. Read or listen to something that inspires you! I listen to positive messages/meditations on YouTube. Maybe you can find someone on Spotify who inspires you?! (hint-hint-3R Educational Solutions is good, I've heard!)This is an easy one to add while you get ready! If you're a reader, wake up a few minutes early to find your inspiration to read! Maybe you have a favorite author or a book of affirmations? Quick, easy words or thoughts to get your brain thinking positively all day long! 

Routine for Classroom Success

Routine or lack of routine can make or break a teacher's mental well-being! A solid routine that allows for some flexibility is key to a successful classroom. During my studies with the Neurosequential Network to obtain my Trauma-Informed certification, one thing I found to over and over again to be true is that we all thrive when structure is in place. This is true especially for those who come from a non-structured home environment. When students know and understand what is expected of them, they will respond to those expectations more positively. 

Alternatively, please remember that those students who only know and understand chaos will seek to create chaos. This can be very difficult, but part of that structure is having a routine where expectations are held and consequences for disrupting routine is also understandable and they are held accountable. Without this second component (consequences/accountability) the student who seeks chaos will continue to create chaos. Sticking to routine and expectations help these students especially regulate their behaviors and emotions. 

I refer to a solid classroom routine as having a plan from "bell-to-bell". For example: 

Entering the room
: Greet students at the door! Bell work is ready for them so they know what to do as soon as they walk in the room. Once everyone is in the room, start a time for them to have bell work completed (and for you to get attendance) 
Timer ends:
 Have a set expectation for what happens next. Go over Bell-work? Turn and talk? 
When the lesson begins:
What are the Clear Learning Goals? Have these posted so students know what they are expected to learn and how they will show you they learned it! Have these goals where students can see them throughout the lesson. 
During the lesson
: What are the expectations/routines for listening and participation? 
Transition times
: What should it look like when your class transitions from one moment to the next? Is there a countdown? A timer? (I was the teacher who set timers for EVERYTHING--this held both me and the students accountable for time management!)
End of Class/Transition to another part of the day (lunch, special classes, etc):
Set an expectation/routine for how this should look. Do you dismiss by table? How do you want it to look/sound? If you allow chaos, you will get chaos.
Spend the first two weeks perfecting these routines daily.  You may feel as though you're not teaching very much, but you will be able to get more done throughout the school year with well-established routines! I truly believe you will go home less mentally and physically drained once you establish these routines! 

A great article I found with some great information on routines: