Getting routines right!
“The secret of your future is hidden in your daily routine.”
During this month, I had the pleasure of training some NQT’s as part of my academy chains offering to them. The 7 of them (4 of our own) that came were advised that they were going to receive some training on behaviour. I didn’t arrange this. It was landed on me at relatively short notice. I’m glad it was!
These new teachers were taking their first tentative steps into a long, difficult and rewarding career in one of the most challenging sectors available. At this stage, they are malleable and the support that they receive will be at its most influential. We all know members of staff who are too stuck in their ways and unable to adapt. What do these NQT’s have to adapt from? Nothing… exactly.
I was asked to let them observe me initially and ‘train’ them afterwards. I thought back to the things that I found helped me as an NQT and decided that I would focus most of my demonstration on routines. They came in for 8.30 and I had a chance to speak for 15 minutes. They observed registration, transition to SPAG groups and then our literacy lesson. This was to my Year 5 class. Their classes were from FS2 to Year 6. They only had a morning with me therefore I had to make it count. I didn’t have the chance to deliver bespoke stuff to each Key Stage so had to go for the most bang per buck… routines.
They observed me from 8.45-10.20. I asked them before the session started to sit there with a piece of paper and a pen and use this time to scribble down anything from ideas they like to questions that they could challenge me on. If I couldn’t answer any of them, then I shouldn’t be in that privileged position. And boy, they did. I focussed on showing a few basic routines consistently based on moving the children around the classroom and to and from their different groups. I did this consistently, as I do everyday. When I got a new group, I applied the same consistent routines. They seemed relatively impressed at how easily my children moved without sounding like a stampede of buffalo (we are on the top floor). In fact it was so easy, and so embedded with the children, that if I asked one of the NQT’s to take my place while I nipped to the loo then they would get a near identical reaction form the children providing they followed the same consistent script.
I used a very basic script 1-2-3. When I say 1, the children sit smartly giving me their full attention. When I say 2, they stand up (and tuck chairs in if at the table). I then say to the children, “When I say 3, you need to …” and this explicit instruction is followed out automatically by all. It’s not difficult and it doesn’t cause grief to the children. It is quick and efficient but wasn’t always like this. I had to put in the effort, the work, the graft. It’s like that iceberg image we see all over the place, you only see the tip and not what is beneath it all.
After a coffee break, they had the chance to ask questions. This lasted quite a while and was very engaging. The conversation was deep and they all had an opportunity to glean their little bespoke piece. Inevitably, the conversation went towards the 1-2-3 part. I spoke about how I explicitly taught the children the routine and the work that was put in initially. The conversation then widened and we spoke about instilling routines in them NOW. This was mid September and they still had an opportune time to teach their own explicit routines.
I asked them to reflect on the part of their day that they would like to improve (and most said some sort of transition) and we spoke about how they could put a routine in place practically to help them. We then spoke about cues, like my 1-2-3, and the cues they could use with their children. If they put these routines in place now and they become a ritual, their future will be much brighter as the quote from Mike Murdock alludes to. With a relatively small time investment now, the time they save will be paid in generous dividends.