Many elementary school teachers are masters at routine--they establish good routines at the start of the year and stick to those routines all year long. Others find this more of a challenge. A routine-oriented teacher is not better than the other, but the truth is that good routines create greater freedom and time for deep, meaningful, and joyful learning.
What routines matter with regard to your math classroom?
Since our students move from classroom to classroom, making the time to teach transitions is integral to using time well. My colleagues did a great job with this last year, and I want to listen to their strategies so I can follow their lead. Good transitions save time and prepare everyone for quality learning.
Respectful, Targeted Use of Supplies
Since students move from place to place, they each have a drawer in the math classroom for their math notebooks and baggy full of supplies. It's important to make sure that everyone has the needed supplies including a grid notebook, pencil sharpener, colored pencils, and fine line marker at the start of the year. It's also important that shared supplies such as scissors, rulers, protractors, and manipulatives are easy to access, use, and put away. Early year introduction to supply locations, care, use, and clean-up sets the stage for a successful year.
Learning Experience Routines
Generally the learning experiences will follow a basic routine each day. In my class, students generally have an introduction, time to study, learn, make, or practice, and a closing comment or share. It's important to explicitly teach the routine so students know what to expect. You can ask students to monitor the routine too so that most of the time is their time to learn, create, share, and practice.
Speaking and Listening
One of the greatest challenges of classroom life is that you're typically working with large numbers of students at a time, that's why it's important to set speaking and listening rules and rationale up front. Typically, these rules lead speaking and listening:
- Raise your hand if you'd like to speak.
- Keep your hand down if someone else is speaking and then raise your hand when they are done if you'd like to say something.
- Speak with a strong voice so everyone can hear. It's advantageous to have a microphone available for the soft spoken students.
- Don't side talk when someone else is speaking.
- Listen carefully to what someone is saying, and if you want to add, but afraid you'll forget, write down your thoughts in your notebook so you're ready to share when the time comes.