Secondary Teachers Don't Teach Routines

Posted by ADAM JOHNSON on 8/24/2015 9:00:00 PM

Today marks the start of the first full week of school. Which means we began our "in-house flip" today! 
I recently read an article about a teacher who spends the first full day of school passing out papers only to have his students practice turning them in. He spends an entire class period on the first day of school passing out blank sheets of paper, and then the students turn them in. That's it... that's all they do. No syllabus, no rules, no assigning of text books. None of the things all of the teachers around him were doing. When his administrators found out that he spent the first day of school having students turn in blank pieces of paper over and over, they had to know why. He went on to explain that by spending one class period practicing a routine that happens virtually every day, he was able to save a ton of time over the course of the school year. He also was able to make a game out of it and the students would chart the time it took and try to beat their score with each new attempt. This small element of competition helped to build community.
Reading this article resonated with me because of how I choose to spend the first few days of with all of my classes. We do what I have dubbed, the "in-house flip." The in-house flip serves several purposes. First, it is an opportunity for me to introduce students to a new type of learning environment without increasing their anxiety. Secondly, I am able to review the most important topics from their previous math class in an engaging manner. We will use the in-house flip for two days and, during this time, students will acclimate themselves to a "new" methodology and review critical content without causing too much of the anxiety kids often feel with the start of a new school year.
So, while most secondary teachers don't teach routines, this secondary teacher embeds routines into his teaching.