Don’t Stop Now: The Importance of Structures and Routines


It never is the most exciting presentation or the topic that when looking through the Conference Guide you say “Wow I am going to that one!!” Structures and routines there is just no way to make it sound any more than what it is. Yet it is perhaps one of the most important strategies for schools, classrooms and students when it comes to both behaving and learning.

Some of the gurus like George Sugai with PBIS and Randy Sprick through Safe and Civil Schools know and espouse what good parents have been doing forever. As parents we innately understand the importance of establishing a bedtime routine that can be as simple as bath, story, snack and bed or the morning routine of getting dressed, make your bed, breakfast, brushing your teeth and going to school. These routines that established early bring structure and routine to an often chaotic world around us. These routines not only make us feel safe but mentally prepare our minds for what is happening next.

Checking our data and through informal conversations with other administrators it is apparent that schools suffer through spikes in behaviour at times when the school and classroom routines and structures are disrupted. Report Card writing time for teachers, holiday concerts, or like now the end of the year activities are just some of the examples our data indicates for our school. It is important that during times where there are major disruptions to the structures and routines of the school day or teacher focus that we increase our adherence to those patterns we have established for activities but also to our lessons when the students are back in class. In times of disorder or change whether students or adults what we need is order. Structures and routines provide that.

Teachers still need to keep expectations high, re-teach, model and enforce the school-wide and classroom expectations. Remind students of hallway and classroom expectations. Re-teach those established expectations for assemblies and presentations. When teaching a lesson continue to follow your established learning routines of sharing the outcome, activating the lesson, demonstrating the task, shared examples and eventually group or independent work where students are reminded and re-taught those learning behaviours that are essential and found in CHAMPS or the learning routines established school-wide or in your grade level teams. All classrooms do not need to be exactly the same but the effectiveness of school-wide interventions increase with teacher consistency and when structures and routines are consistent. Does your school establish the routines of how to come into class, how to walk down the hallway, enter a classroom? As a teacher do your students have a seating plan? Do they know to go to their desk, open their book and look to the teacher for next steps? Do students know and have they been taught about being prepared and ready for class? Have you taught those routines and structures? Have you reinforced them and re-taught them? Yes even at the end of the year.

As the school year starts to wind down we often as teachers start also tend to wind down or lose our focus to all the jobs we have to do like report cards, cum files and the list is endless that we forget to reinforce those routines and structures that have worked so well for us over the school year. We took the time throughout the year to teach our routines and structures and they worked. Remember the end of the year is not only a time of increased stress on the adults in a building but also on students. The end of the year marks the start of a transition from one grade to another, school to school, school to graduation which all our unknowns. Perhaps most students or our Universal population do okay but our students who have higher needs or those in the targeted and intensive populations will require extra attention. Remember the end of the year also means the end of the routine and structure of school that for many students causes stress as they look towards summer holidays that they might not be looking forward to as much as we are.

The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.


About jameswhoddinott

My novel 'When Eagles Dare to Fly' represents my belief that good will always triumph over evil and by developing who we are on the inside we will find our way. My newest novel 'The Fates' was released earlier this year that examines a society that discovers immortality. I have a blog called an 'Author, blogger and his musings' which talks about my writing, political issues as well as other areas of interest like education, art and photography,
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