Routines are required because routines are reassuring.

Routines lead to relaxing and getting down to work without distractions. Or trouble.

 Teachers teach procedures and routines in the first weeks of school so that students can have order and consistency in their lives, so they can feel successful, and so they can learn to get down to business without worrying about the small stuff. Don’t sweat the small stuff (they say). Having routines makes life easier – really! Students know where to turn in homework, when to go to their lockers, and how to get to the lunchroom independently when teachers help them to learn the daily procedures. Harry and Rosemary Wong even wrote about it in The First Days of School. But I’m finding more and more that teachers need the procedures and routines just as much as the students.

(The following is a personal story that is meant to show how teachers need routines just as much as students. Thank you for allowing me to share.)

As a “veteran” teacher, I’m supposed to know how to teach content, manage my classroom, and manage my time. Daily tasks such as taking attendance, transitioning to the related arts classes, and end-of-day dismissal procedures need to be taught, practiced, and mastered by staff and students alike. I’m still learning. Nowhere near mastery yet. Even though I’m supposed to know. Here’s what I learned today:

When you assign lunch detention, the acceptable procedure is to keep students in the classroom for up to ten minutes, and then allow them to move to the lunchroom to eat. Ten minutes is plenty of time – all you have to do is walk down the hallway – to get to the cafeteria. Well…I released the students within the acceptable time frame, but I also directed them to follow the noon procedure of changing books for the afternoon and they traveled to their lockers, and got to lunch really late! Oh, my! Following procedures and routines, and then changing them without practicing the change, may lead to greater stress for everyone involved. It sure didn’t make my lunchtime relaxing.

Teachers, remember to practice the routines for your own well-being as well as for your students’ peace of mind. Write your routines down and follow them as you have recorded. Also write down any changes or predicted flexibility that may be ahead. Practice the changes, as well. (“When you have lunch detention, you need to…”) Then, you can be reassured, relaxed, and get your work done, too! And maybe even stay out of trouble.

Hey, you worked really hard all week, so take Monday off.

Have a great Labor Day Weekend!