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Reflecting on classroom routines

Written By: Hannah Tyreman
3 min read

Classroom routines are an important part of making classrooms safe and productive spaces for pupils to learn. Having expected ways of behaving for key transitions or activities means that more time can be spent learning than ‘getting ready’. Routines can be established that will benefit from regular practise and revisiting until they are well embedded for you and your pupils.

These reflective questions will help you to consider three key routines in your practice, whether you’re establishing or revisiting them.

Entry routines

This routine is primarily concerned with pupils entering the classroom with the minimum of fuss, disruption and noise so that learning can begin. You may like to consider:

  • How do you greet your pupils to make them feel welcome and also have the opportunity to reinforce expectations such as uniform, equipment, phone use…?
  • How do you ease the transition between rooms, especially for pupils with SEND who may find the potentially loud and crowded corridors particularly challenging? A personalised transition plan might be really helpful, for instance allowing a student to arrive / leave slightly before their peers to help them feel settled and ready for learning (submitted by Alistair Crawford, St Martins and St Andrew’s Teaching Schools).
  • How do you set-up the seating and environment to make it obvious where pupils will sit? Perhaps with a seating plan, name labels, or a coded system?
    • Carefully consider the environment for pupils with SEND, for instance students who are visually impaired might be best placed nearer the teacher or the smartboard (submitted by Alistair Crawford, St Martins and St Andrew’s Teaching Schools).
  • What expectations have you established about starting work with appropriate noise levels, sitting, standing, registration?
  • Where do you place key equipment for pupils so that it can be collected and used easily with minimum disruption later in the lesson?
  • What kind of activity do you plan and how do you present or display it so that pupils can get started with their learning quickly?
  • How will you check pupils are engaged and begin giving individual verbal feedback or praise where needed to promote positive behaviours?
  • How might you use visual supports to reinforce your individual, group and whole class routines? Perhaps using pictures, symbols, a visual timetable or schedule (submitted by Alistair Crawford, St Martins and St Andrew’s Teaching Schools).

Transition between activities

Establishing clear routines here means that you can make it clear to pupils when different behaviours and noise levels might be needed and obtain their attention ahead of a new set of instructions.

  • How have you set expectations with pupils about noise levels for different kinds of activities: independent work, group work, paired work?
  • Are there different seating arrangements for different activities to make these transitions quick: turn and talk to your partner, turn seats around to join the pair behind, return to your seat for independent work?
  • If there are different equipment needs for different kinds of activities, how are these made readily available to pupils to minimise disruption?
    • Encourage students with SEND to be as independent as possible in being ready for the lesson and looking after any additional equipment they may need (submitted by Alistair Crawford, St Martins and St Andrew’s Teaching Schools).
  • How do you use hand signals, body position, common language to indicate that you need pupils’ attention?
  • How can pupils let you know that you have their full attention in return with their body position, eye contact, noise levels?
  • How are you accommodating pupils with SEND, some of whom may find a sudden, unexpected transition or change of activity challenging? They may require more processing time to be ready for what is coming next (submitted by Alistair Crawford, St Martins and St Andrew’s Teaching Schools).

Exit routines

This routine is essentially your entry routine but in reverse and can help the lesson to finish in a calm way.

  • What kind of activity do you plan and how do you present or display it so that the lesson is drawn to a clear conclusion?
  • Where can key equipment be returned to and how can this be achieved with minimal disruption?
  • What expectations have you established about being ready to leave the classroom: collecting books, tidying up, tucking in chairs?
  • How do you say goodbye to pupils and allow them to leave the classroom in a calm way?
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