Tip # 1: Do (some of) the same things EVERY DAY
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but establishing rituals and routines in your classroom is probably the most important way to set yourself up for success as a new teacher. Your students know what to expect, which is always a good thing. But maybe more importantly, you show them that you know what you’re doing.
Unfortunately for new teachers, figuring out the right rituals and routines is hard! You’ve never done it before, so you don’t know what works for you. You might think one routine is what you want, then realize it doesn’t suit you or your students at all (that happened to me A LOT). So keep it simple – not every minute of every class has to be a routine, but figure out certain parts that can be. Also try borrowing from other teachers. From your student teaching, think about what procedures the teachers implemented that you liked or would work with your personal style. And lastly, here are some examples from my own teaching experience (along with whether they worked or not):
1. Entry/Exit routine:
Every day I prepared a half sheet of paper. On the front was a Do Now – questions that prepared students for the day’s lessons or reviewed the previous lesson. On the back was an Exit Ticket – questions or an activity that summarized today’s lesson. Students spent the first 5 minutes of class working on the Do Now and the last 5 minutes completing the Exit Ticket. This slip of paper was collected every day.
Result: This worked really well! I think mainly because I did it EVERY DAY. It also helped that the DN and ET were together and always collected. A lot of teachers struggle with getting students to complete the Do Now, so the fact that the paper was collected every day kept students accountable. Aside from the routine, the exit ticket was also very informative for me on how my students were doing. After a quick read through of student responses I could modify the next lesson to address some misconceptions or re-teach some concepts
2. Homework routine
I had a box where students would turn in their homework on their way into class.
Result: Mega fail. I didn’t give homework every day, and would forget about the box when I was supposed to collect it. So basically no one except the top two students would use this box. I ended up having students turn in homework along with their exit tickets (see above) at the end of the day.
3. Reading routine: Anticipation Guide
Every time my students did a reading, I would set up an anticipation guide for them. This was usually part of their worksheet. It’s a series of statements related to what they were about to read. Before they started the reading they would guess whether each statement was T/F. Then as they read, they would learn the truth and go back and update their initial guesses. They would also need to provide evidence on why the statement was T/F.
Result: Really awesome! Not only is this a great routine, it’s also a great way to encourage more engaged reading in the classroom. Highly recommended.
4. Materials routine
As a science teacher, a lot of my lessons involved materials. I tried this routine where each table or group had a “Materials Manager” and this person was responsible for bringing/returning all the materials for his/her group.
Result: Not too great. It turns out that sometimes materials require more than one person to collect. Also what if the MM is absent? Then no one wants to get the stuff because it’s “not their job.” I ended up scratching this. I would ask for 1 (or 2) students to come and get the materials whenever we needed it.
Hope this was helpful! Let us know what rituals/routines you like to use in your classroom! More tips to follow!
Chen Liu spent four years as a New York City high school science teacher. Chen also trained new teachers for The New Teacher Project.