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NYC Helpline: How To: Get Started
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NYC Helpline: Manage Your Classroom
NYC Helpline: How To Get Started

Aligning Routines with Your Values
Judi Fenton

If you are starting to teach in September, you have probably thought of how you will set up your classroom, what rules and routines you will put into place, how students will behave.  You are probably learning curriculum, worrying about how you will interact with the teachers and administration, thinking about how you will interact with parents and the school community, and searching for curriculum resources. There is definitely plenty to prepare for whether you are brand new or very experienced.

As a new teacher, it’s important for you to figure out what you believe and value in order to have cohesive classroom routines and structures for students to adhere to. Once you know what is important to you, you can align the way in which your classroom functions to these values.  To a certain extent, your values come out of experience, therefore, creating cohesive routines and structures can be one of the most difficult things to do when you first begin your teaching career.

Here are some questions that you can reflect upon, or explore with a more experienced colleague, that may help:

What is my your philosophy of teaching?
Do you believe that your students should be partners in constructing how the classroom operates? Do you believe that it is up to a teacher to make the rules? Should students primarily work independently or together? Will you welcome parents, community members, and other teachers as partners?

Envision your classroom—what do you see?
Think about what routines you will need to teach your students in order for them to be interacting with you, each other, and the materials you are imagining? Will they need to be taught how to work in groups? Will they need to know where to find and replace materials? Will they need to know where to place homework folders? All of these routines will have to be explicitly taught to students, and reinforced often.

How will you teach and reinforce the routines?
Think about the ways you will teach and reinforce the routines. It will be important to teach routines in a variety of ways. Demonstrate (or have one of the students demonstrate) what it is they will be doing. Have a few process charts up posted in your room, making sure that they are clearly written and posted where students can see them; these act as reminders to everyone about what they need to do.  Understand that you will have to verbally remind students often (this is to be expected). If there is a routine that involves parents, like checking folders and/or signing homework, make sure that you send home the information the first week of school. Parents will also need some reminders too!

Routines will become easier to implement as you gain experience and begin to understand what you value in teaching and learning. If you begin to explore what you value early on, you can definitely speed up the process of aligning your classroom routines to your values.  Good luck!

Do you have a comment or question about this article? E-mail Judi.

See also: Teaching a Rule or Routine James E. Dallas


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