I remember the first time someone told me I needed to spend 4-6 weeks (4 to 6 WEEKS!) teaching my students how to do simple things like putting their names on their papers, bringing their notebooks to class, and closing the classroom door quietly.
Can you relate?
To answer your question, “Do I really need to spend weeks on classroom routines?” The answer is YES.
One year I had a really great class, so I didn’t think I needed to spend as much time teaching behavioral skills. WHAT A MISTAKE! Their behaviors started getting worse and worse until I eventually completely lost control of the class – to the point that I reached the point of no return. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get my “nice” class back.
Behavioral skills such as bringing materials to class, putting your name on your paper, asking for help, sharing space with other students, and so on, are foundational to academic learning. Behaviors that facilitate learning come first – THEN you can cover your curriculum effectively.
Jumping right into teaching your curriculum without thoroughly teaching classroom routines is the same as trying to teach essay-writing before your students know the alphabet – it’s just going to be frustrating and counterproductive for everyone.
So take a deep breath, quell your panic, and commit to helping your students create positive learning habits that will serve them for a lifetime. The time you invest now will save you hours later on.
Katrina Ayres, PositiveTeachingStrategies.com
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