Teaching Routines/Expectations in MS?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by BumbleB, Jul 13, 2014.

  1. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    One of the things I want to improve for this school year is teaching expectations up front. I feel like many of the behavior problems in my class could be avoided if I was firm and consistent at the beginning of the year.

    I have "First Days of School" by Harry Wong, and he talks about how important it is to explain and practice routines and expectations. But his suggestions for teaching/reinforcing them are so.....boring. Are there any fun ways to review expectations that my middle schoolers will like? Like games or riddles or something? I want to spend a good week or so pounding these expectations into their heads, but I don't want to bore them. Any suggestions?
     
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  3. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    I use some of the whole brain learning but I also just use the basic practice practice practice. One goal is to really use the "teach/ok" method. Interested to see what others say.

    Side note: I am a stickler for routines and I find that once routines are solid it is so much easier to introduce debates and projects. The students also comment (usually at the end of the year) how the routines really help them adjust to new concepts
     
  4. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    What routines and expectations do you guys teach?
     
  5. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Get down to business...kids have been taught expectations and procedures since kindergarten. They are expecting your schtick...cover it, move on, and hold them to your expectations with consequences.
     
  6. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    A lot of people say you don't have to continuously go over your expectations and routines; that all you have to do is go over them once and then just enforce consequences. They say that since kids have been going to school for years, they already know how to behave and will do so because you have laid down the law and they know there are consequences for their actions. Well, I wish I taught those kids. Where are they at?

    OP, I think there is nothing wrong with going over your routines and expectations everyday for the first week or so. I find this to be necessary especially if you teach 6th graders and this is their first time in MS. Even if you teach 7th or 8th grade, I would spend a little time each day going over routines and expectations until you feel comfortable. I mean, we all know that children send their well-behaved representatives to school those first few weeks anyway.

    Remember, a lot of people say just enforce your consequences and everything will be alright. But, if you teach older kids who don't scare easily, can't be controlled by their parents, are difficult/like to try you, and your school won't back you up in regards to consequences - you are on your own. Routines, procedures and expectations are important to keep your sanity and classroom running smoothly.
     
  7. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    Amen! Yes, they may have heard it a million times, but they don't know the way I like MY room. And, like Go Blue! said, sometimes, I swear these kids have never even been taught the meaning of "please."

    I go over my expectations and routines thoroughly on day one and repeat them at least once a day for the next 4 weeks (block schedule, so every other day). Boring, yup. Monotonous, yep. But by October, my room runs like a well-oiled machine and I rarely have to get on students' cases about transitions or preparation for the rest of the year.
     
  8. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    I would definitely practice the procedures, but I think a week straight would be boring no matter what you do. Once you know they can do it, you don't have to review until they don't do it right. Then you have them practice. I always have a honeymoon period the first two weeks where they are really good. About mid September, they forget everything I've said, so we go back and review.
     
  9. readingrules12

    readingrules12 Aficionado

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    I can think of no better way to prepare then with the ideas in Tools For Teaching by Fred Jones. It should be easy to find online. This book has helped me more than anything else with classroom management.
     
  10. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    That is a very accurate picture of my students. Not all of them, but enough of them to ruin the classroom dynamics.

    Great! I guess I shouldn't be too worried about boring if that's the payoff.

    Thank you for the book suggestion! Going in my Amazon cart now :)
     
  11. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    So what routines are you guys teaching?
     
  12. HistoryVA

    HistoryVA Devotee

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    For me, it's mainly about students learning the routine of the average class day. I keep all of my handouts in a specific place and the first 5 minutes of the class is our "prep time." So, I teach them that the need to:
    1. Enter quietly
    2. Pick up any handouts in their specific slot
    3. Sharpen any pencils that need it
    4. Sit down and take out last night's homework for collection, placing it on the corner of their desk
    5. Take out their notes from last class and begin reviewing.

    Once the routine is down, I find that within those 5 minutes, I can collect homework, take attendance and answer any last minute questions. When I say, "time to clear down", they know to remove everything for the quiz.

    They learn that when they finish their quiz, they are to immediately begin on their warm up question (on the board) and then wait for direct instruction to begin.

    They're also taught that if they finish their classwork early, they have specific options on how to fill spare time. When I say "time to wrap up" (3-4 min before the end of class), they can stop working, put away their stuff and prepare to leave. Finally, we go over a wrap-up question and homework.

    They're also taught not to ask to go to the bathroom during direct instruction (barring emergencies, ofc) and not to sharpen pencils when I'm speaking to the class.

    I'm sure there are others floating around but the routine of the day is my main thing. I make sure they know where the agenda is written out. One of the things I tell them on the first day is my top 3 most-hated questions: What are we doing? Can I go to the bathroom (during D.I.)? and Do we have homework/a quiz? (because the answer is ALWAYS yes :p)

    I come off as a very rigid teacher at the beginning of the year, but I've found that being so allows me to loosen the reins much more quickly and have more fun. EVERY year, I hear "I thought I was going to hate you at the beginning of the year, but now I love you!" and I always tell them that's my favorite compliment. :p

    ETA: They're also taught to hit the door running when they hear the bell, because I HATE that "The bell doesn't dismiss you; I do" thing.
     
  13. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    If we do it, I have a routine for it. I teach them as we use them. We practice, practice, practice. Nothing "fun" about it. They learn the procedures so we can do the fun stuff later.
     
  14. Pashtun

    Pashtun Fanatic

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    TY History.
     
  15. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Well sometimes boring is better. In the case of rules and expectations, they're things you take seriously and you want your students to take seriously.

    However with procedures and things, I don't think there is any problem with making those enjoyable.

    One method I like is modeling. Show students exactly what to do, and then hilariously, exactly what not to do.

    One day half-way through the year, I assigned one student to be the teacher, and I was student who didn't want to follow the rules and procedures. (btw, I picked some of my most finnicky students to be the teacher)

    The students got to feel what it was to be a teacher in which students didn't listen to what they say, and the rest of the kids delineated exactly what was wrong with that scenario and what we needed to do to make it right.

    It was a gas. The 'teachers' for that day told me that nobody could pay them enough money to teach 13 year olds.

    I also like to share stories of why these rules and procedures are in place, specifically talking about what happened in class before they were in place. Students found the behavior of my past students amusing ("why would anyone want to draw male genitalia over everything?"), and laughable enough to not want to do it themselves and be mocked the next year to my future students.

    I also generally teach them like I do other things, having them discuss why certain rules and procedures might be in place, etc. and of course I relate it continuously to our goal for having a productive and fun year of learning.
     
  16. otterpop

    otterpop Phenom

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  17. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    I might just be weird, but I have a five page document of all the procedures we cover in our class.

    We don't do all of it the first few days. A lot of them won't be done for a few weeks, (i.e. fire drill procedures, etc.)

    The first few days I go over:

    1. rules and consequences
    2. entering and exiting the classroom
    3. starting off the day
    4. attention signal and responding to calls for attention
    5. sharpening pencils, getting tissue, getting water, going to the bathroom
    6. writing in the planner
    7. when to start responding to directions
    8. checking homework
    9. visitors
    10. asking for help
    11. stealing/bullying

    And whatever else might come up.
     
  18. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    We go over everything....I mean everything....how to enter the room, what to do once you enter the room, how to show you want to have a say in the discussion, how to act when I am talking, how to act when others are talking, what to do if you need to throw something out (always at the end of the period), what to do if you forgot supplies, I could go on and on but experience has taught me, never ever assume students know the expectations, even the simple ones.

    I also start my first day of classes asking students to brainstorm what execrations would come with our three rules (respect yourself, others, and this room). It helps lead into routines ex: respecting others means you are listening when others speak, not talking or looking out the window or doodling. Respecting yourself means completing your work, which means you have your homework ready to be checked, you complete all parts of the work, you participate in your groups discussion.
     
  19. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Exactly. I think a lot of the teachers that advise to just skip over procedures or just spend a few minutes with it are perhaps doing more teaching of procedures than they realize. I also think that it's bad advice to give to a newbie who literally will spend no time going over procedures for the year and realize halfway through the year that their class is out of control because nobody knows the procedures in the classroom.
     
  20. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    I think it is worse advice to tell a newbie to be like every other teacher out there instead of being himself.

    I *was* that newbie. I followed Harry Wong to the letter for the my first three years - it was awful. I taught every single procedure the first two days and reviewed them repeatedly. My students didn't care and I hated it.

    They absolutely know how to behave in a classroom. I've had kids who have literally been in the country a couple weeks and THEY know how to behave in a classroom. Those of you claiming that you don't have those kids, I'll be blunt, you're wrong. You have them, they choose not to be them.

    Do I have procedures? Of course. Do I enforce them? Far more than most. I will not, however, waste a full day on teaching them. When they come up I teach it. When it comes up again we review it. From then on, I enforce it.

    To answer Pashtun - my day 1 procedures are how to enter class, doing bellwork, handing out papers, getting colored pencils and ending class. All of those happen as they come up during the period and take almost no time at all.
     
  21. Go Blue!

    Go Blue! Connoisseur

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    Of course, but it doesn't matter if someone knows something when they are unwilling to perform/behave.

    Where I teach, many kids will try you just to try you especially during those first few weeks. If you do not establish and properly reinforce the routines/rules, the kids will establish their own. Even after you set the rules/routines, you will still get a lot of push back until the kids see that they can or cannot break you.

    Every year I see a lot of new teacher non-renewed all because of classroom management issues. Most of these teachers problems stem from not continuously reinforcing the rules, routines and procedures. They assume too quickly that the kids know what to do and that the kids will do it. By February, these teachers have been fired.
     
  22. Harper

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    Jul 14, 2014

    You asked for fun ways to teach procedures, but I struggled with that. I like Peregrin's ideas, if that is your personality (I do a bit of it myself!). I go over all the basics on first day, then get down to teaching, but with everything we do the first week, I explain the procedure attached to it. ( As you enter, remember to sit quietly, get out your notebook and pen, not pencil, and begin the activity on the board.) Toward end of week, as we start something, I ask "and how do we do this?" and have students answer. After that, it is just on an as-needed basis. A few colleagues make a game out of it at the end of the week, and the kids seem to enjoy that. They might have a student act out the procedure in a silly way or do a 4corners type of game. I have put my procedures as questions on the first quiz before - that got a few kids attention! I told them I would, and I did. They quickly learn to pay attention to details!
     
  23. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Well as you said yourself: "When they come up I teach it. When it comes up again we review it. From then on, I enforce it."

    So you do review procedures. This is a far cry from saying: "I spend 5 minutes teaching procedures and then forget about them."

    Which is why I said those who say they don't spend a lot of time teaching procedures probably spend more time than they think. Because you're a veteran teacher it doesn't seem that way to you, and it seems like you just come in and kids know what to do. That's different than what actually happens which is basically you assess students on their knowledge of procedures, teach them what is necessary, review as necessary, assess again, etc.

    When you tell a new teacher to only spend five minutes teaching procedures, they will literally think you mean only review procedures for five minutes and then forget about them. I think this is somewhat irresponsible advice, and should be clarified as you did.

    Also with new teachers, your method will probably not work because they themselves are unsure about their procedures, and may not have learned the importance of consistently enforcing rules. Even when you tell a new teacher to consistently enforce rules and procedures, they usually don't know what that means and it's more difficult to do than say.
     
  24. Rockguykev

    Rockguykev Connoisseur

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    There's a huge difference between teaching procedures and enforcing them. It does not take more than 5 minutes to teach them to middle schoolers - and I'm including the reteaching. Taking even one full day is just not necessary. I'll admit that "forget about them" is not the full idea. I specifically meant during the first day of school. I simply meant I do not model them, make the kids do it, model it again, etc. as Wong suggests. I lay it out, do it and move on.

    If a new teacher is unsure of their own procedures that is even less reason to spend class time drilling them. If you don't believe in it neither will the kids.

    I'm not going to argue that enforcement isn't important - it absolutely is. The number of kids to which that level actually applies though is low. For them it is not that they don't know what to do but they simply choose not to do it. How does drilling it repeatedly change that?
     
  25. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Well your experience with what middle schoolers know and don't know are different from mine I guess. Part of what makes it not as clear cut as you think is that most teachers require different procedures in different rooms. How I expect my students to enter and be ready is different than what the math teacher expects across the hall from me.

    For me, I like having students spend time showing me they can do it at least once, and we'd practice as necessary to let them know that I'm not going to just settle for mediocre. I want it exactly as I say I want it.

    With the students who know the procedure, but do not do it, that's where the enforcement comes in. What it really comes down to is that you've covered your bases and students who honestly may not know the procedures will learn them or at least learn what you expect of them. You've practiced it at least once, and then you have them take it from there.

    For most teachers, the reason it takes one or two days is because they also have other procedures apart from the basic ones, such as how to turn in papers, how to organize their binder, how to organize their lab journals, etc. These things are a bit more particular for each teacher and also take more time.
     
  26. nyteacher29

    nyteacher29 Comrade

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    :agreed:

    I prefer to spend 2 days of practice than a whole year of constant reminders. when a walk in by admin happens I can breath a little easier for I am confident that students will not be asking "what do we do now?"
     
  27. vivalavida

    vivalavida Companion

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    Do you think you would mind sharing this? I'm curious to see what you go over with your students. Do they also receive a copy of this?
     
  28. Peregrin5

    Peregrin5 Maven

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    Sure. I don't mind sharing. I'll send you a link over PM, but no I don't share this with my kids. It's more of a handbook for me to remind myself so I can stay consistent. Writing it out also just makes me think about what I'd do in certain situations before they actually happen, and gives me a good starting point if I need to revise anything.

    I still continue to change things up to the year and throughout. (though a lot less once the year has started)
     

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