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Tool: Defining and teaching routines to promote learning

Routines make life predictable for students, provide them opportunities to behave competently, help activity proceed in a satisfying way and save time--if they are taught, as distinct from told. They are maintained by teaching. Treated as rules to enforce, they become just another source of conflict between teacher and students.

Defining and teaching routines to save time and promote learning*

Types and purposes

Specific routines




Supports learning?

Class-running routines conserve time for teaching and learning.

Class opening (greeting, attendance, mental set)

Transitions to and from major activities.

Lesson-running routines directly support and guide instructional activity.

Homework check (review problems; collect papers)

Independent practice at seats

Interaction routines define who talks with whom, how and when.

Choosing who speaks during discussion

Active listening in small groups

*Adapted from Weinstein, C.S., & Mignano, A.J. (2003). Elementary/Secondary classroom management: Lessons from research and practice. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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