Why should teachers have students practice routines? If you have ever had the chance to observe kindergarten, especially at the beginning of the year, you may see a lot of repetition of directions. Kindergarten teachers know that their students need to practice basic skills a lot: sitting in their seats, moving to the carpet, raising their hands to talk, sharpening pencils, lining up... you name it. Kindergarten teachers are pros at establishing routines.
Routines should be established and built in all levels of teaching. It is important for teachers to set these expectations and practice them with their students, even with older grades and students in secondary schools.
In this TED Talk, How To Use A Paper Towel, Joe Smith teaches adults how to help the environment by using paper towels more effectively. Watch the video and see what techniques he uses to help his audience remember the directions.
When we give directions, we should try to follow these basic ideas:
- Get the student's attention and make sure you have it!
- Give clear, positive directions with high expectations.
- Limit the number of directions and steps to the directions.
- Vary the way directions are given (teacher modeled, student modeled, using phrases like, "When I say go...", students repeating directions).
- Be consistent and follow through.
- Give students time to process.
- Repeat directions if needed.
If you find you are struggling to have students follow directions or they struggle to do routine tasks, try using some of these ideas to help your students remember the routines and procedures for your classroom. It is never to late to polish up routines and procedures to help students be successful!