Skip to main content

A Routine Matter?

A Routine Matter?

As we recover from the madness and excitement of the first week back, it is time to stand back and ensure that our strong start with the new classes transfers into a great year .

I presented to our staff last week on simple routines that can be applied to ensure that we give ourselves the best chance to teach and our students to learn . I share these here and credit and thanks to Phil Brown (Deputy Headteacher-St Mary’s Blackpool) for his input here . I write on my own personal blog with my own opinions, mostly evidence based but some supplemented by my own experience . I do not seek consensus but there maybe something here with which readers agree and they can use in their own teaching.

Meet and greet

This is intuitive to most secondary teachers and something that we all do whenever physically possible . The issues come when we are moving between classrooms, an incident has occurred at break or we allow ourselves the luxury of a comfort break . The importance of meet and greet is to show your positive, bright face to all students as they enter. This sets the tone for the lesson, allows us to iron out any minor uniform infringements and gives us chance to develop a relationship with our pupils . This quick acknowledgement and brief chat is evidence based and highlighted in EEF behaviour guidance report.

Strong Start

Lateness can be an issue , be it genuine in the case of a lost year 7 or dubious in the case of year 9 . The strong start ensures that those arriving on time see the importance of every single minute . Strategies for this from the amazing Doug Lemov’s TLAC include ‘Do Now’ which gives pupils an activity to do as soon as they enter the room , typically this revisits previous lessons and serves as a bridge to any new content. I personally favour a retrieval style quiz in which pupils take a 1-10 test of prior knowledge . This is always low stakes ensuring that pupils always strive to improve and measure their success by their own performance not that of the class. In a side note, any late pupil missing this will remain at the end of the lesson to complete this with me, the stakes here being slightly higher !

Pastore’s Perch

Again a strategy from Doug Lemov and a real game changer for me . TLAC advocates teachers standing at an angle of 45 degrees to the class to ensure all students are visible at all times . For someone who previously enjoyed standing front and centre , this was a big adjustment . I now unconsciously adopt this stance in all teaching , even when leading staff CPD . The difference is huge and any low level disruption is easily visible and quickly addressed . This is also important when working with individual pupils, make sure the angle you are working with them allows full visibility of the rest of the class . Eyes in the back of your head is not literal but with this stance it makes it much easier to appear so.

Noise Levels

This is something that is not particularly evidence based but as Baz Luhrman would put in it Sunscreen “the result of my own meandering experience” . I outline with pupils early on that we will have 3 basic noise levels which will be in operation at various points of the lesson. They are as follows:

Silence- This noise level is virtually literal , not to sound like a Theresa May sound bite but ‘silence means silence . This means that I will adopt Pastore’s Perch at the front of the classroom and act rather like an exam invigilator . No doubt to the dismay of many behaviour experts, I do not help pupils during this part of the lessons ( they are often completing Science SLOP activities and shouldn’t need assistance) I do not allow pupils to talk to each other or me and nobody can lead their seats. I find this establishes a culture of work and a productive environment in which to do it. It is worth pointing out that this can be difficult to establish and hard to maintain but even a small amount of silence implemented well can have a positive effect on any other behaviour management strategy. It’s effectiveness rests in its surety.

Low noise- this is a working noise level during which pupils can discuss work with the person sat next to them . They are also able to ask questions and I circulate checking for understanding . This allows teaching to be responsive but that is for another blog.Pupils are still to remain in their seat.  As and when the noise level rises, we reiterate expectations and then if not addressed , we revert to silence.

Practical level- for a Science teacher , this is a level where students can move around and conduct their practical . I use this level to distinguish from the other 2 to avoid confusion and this level is subject to the lab rules. This again would be for another blog

Sit up/Hands up

When presenting this with teachers last week, I illustrated the point with the much published picture of the leader of the House of Commons Mr Rees-Mogg Esq . I have no wish to get into the politics or even the rights of wrongs of his languishing pose, it does serve to show how sitting up is synonymous with paying attention. The idea of sit up  is to ensure that pupils are in the best position to learn. Hands up communicated consistently sets the expectation for asking and answering questions. This is very much a work in progress and I will report on its effectiveness as the year goes on. As it is an expectation, it will need teaching, monitoring and occasional enforcement . I usually go for the positive reinforcement of ‘thank you for putting your hand up’ and the tactical ignoring of shouting out.

End and send

This is new to me and something that I have begun to plan explicitly for . With all my classes , I have now practiced a giving out and collecting books and equipment routine . We have honed this as advocated again in TLAC to an impressive 54 seconds . With this extra time, I am now able to formally end every lesson by thanking each of my students individually for their efforts . I am also able to make any individual suggestions or deliver any individual reminders (homework etc) in a context that is relatively private. This ends the lesson on a calm positive note and makes sure pupils go to the next lesson ready to learn.

I will be working hard to maintain these routines in the upcoming dark , cold and wet months. I will keep you posted on how it goes. I would love to hear readers experiences of trying any of these.


  1. I enjoy greeting my class each time they enter the class and I find it really helps to get them dies generate a string start but is worthless with out a 'Do now' in my experience.
    I also find it better to stand at an angle....amazing how much more meets your eye from the sidelines!
    I still struggle somewhat with noise level and keeping bottoms in seats (I have a fidgety year 4 class) and am open to suggestions:-)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Alright Guv'nor?- How to support schools by becoming more evidence informed

"Many governors lack the expertise needed in an increasingly complex education system to hold school leaders to account'

This was the headline finding of an OFSTED publication in 2016 and something I wrestled with ahead of my application to be a primary school Governor in the summer of 2017. If as a secondary teacher of almost 20 years experience could be daunted by the responsibility and aware of my lack of expertise , is it any wonder that schools find it difficult to recruit governors?
However from the same report

"Governors from within the community make an essential contribution, particularly in areas of deprivation"

This is a more encouraging finding as the amount of experience from other sectors of society and the motivation to make a difference can be very powerful in driving school improvement.
In the first 12 months as a Governor, I learned a great deal from an experienced and expert Governing body. The EEF recently produced a report on becoming an evidence…