Typhani Harris | October 2014

Is It Too Late… Revising Routines and Procedures

Revising Routines and Procedures

This week marks the end of the first quarter at my school. As I reflect, I realized there are some policies, routines and procedures that need to be changed prior to entering the new quarter. Out of curiosity, I asked some colleagues about their reflections on the first quarter. Additionally, whether or not they found themselves wanting to alter or modify some things. Resoundingly, everyone said yes!  This begs the question… is it to late?

As a veteran teacher in a new school, I found myself doing business as usual. Now, I realized that maybe routine, in this case, was not a good idea. I should have recognized my current students are essentially brand new students to me. As opposed to before, when my students traditionally had some sort of contact with me even before they were in my class. These students have only worked with me for a short time. Their previous policies for their dance class vary from the current policies I enacted. Is it too late to change?

Now is a great time to build change and revise policy, because a new quarter already presents a time for revitalization. After spending time with our new theatre teacher, and inquiring what routines and procedures she wished she created at the start of the year, or policies she might consider changing now, we compiled a rather large list.  Here we have narrowed it to the top three,

Getting students into the routine of starting class

For our school we implement a “Do Now”. Some schools call it a sponge or anticipatory set, but regardless of the vernacular the essence is the same. Once students enter the room, they should be prompted to begin something immediately. It is important to have this activity posted in the room, and make a point to visit the activity immediately.  Ask students what they should be doing, how did they know, where can they find it. Continue this until it becomes routine.

Standing at the door

This is a great, super easy teacher tool.  It gives teachers the chance to connect with students, ask about their day/weekend, and remind them what to do when they enter. There are so many benefits to meeting your students at the door, and it is an easy routine you can start today!

Planning Lessons Early…Making It A Habit

Even with the best curriculum maps and pacing guides, we run into the inevitable last minute changes in building lessons and preparing for each day.  Even as a veteran teacher, especially at a new school, I sometimes feel like I am barely keeping my head above water. I am constantly revising and adjusting my lessons, so I can only imagine how our new teachers feel. Creating a routine in lesson planning and material preparation is essential for running a smooth classroom, not to mention maintaining personal sanity.

Try getting two weeks ahead, I know it sounds impossible but we have to start somewhere. Build full lessons for two weeks and prepare all of the materials, copies, etc needed for those two weeks. Then each day, before you leave, reflect on the lessons of the day; what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be retaught tomorrow, and what you need to just throw out. I like to keep a small journal and review the days events right before I go home, this way I know where the kids are in each class as well as how I am feeling with the progress of the students and my progress as a teacher.

Then choose one day a week that you will compose lesson plans, and keep to that routine. This way you are always one step ahead and journaling will help you stay connected to what is happening throughout. Remember, the lesson plan will not be flawless, you will always have to modify but staying a few weeks ahead will help you be prepared so that only a few changes need to be made.

It is never too late to alter policies, routines and procedures but also remember it takes 21 days to make a habit so be patient with the process, it won’t happened overnight, but it will happen.

Next Week: Secrets of a Dance Teacher

Follow-up on the Critical Thinking Midterm

A follow-up on the efficacy of the critical thinking questions from Writing Assessments that Encourage Critical Thinking.

About the Author

Dr. Typhani Harris, author of Putting the Performance in Performance Task and Stop Teaching, brings over 2 decades of educational experience to The Institute. Originally a high school English Language Arts teacher, Dr. Harris transitioned into a dance educator who cultivated an award-winning collegiate style dance education program at a public school in California. Prior to joining the Institute, she was an educational leader and instructional coach specializing in preparing new teachers in secondary urban schools.  As the Executive Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Harris maintains courses, conferences, and the accredited certification program at The Institute.