by Amber Wilson
As professional adults, the benefits of routines are obvious to us. We optimize everything we can, especially our time. Establishing a routine means that we don’t have to constantly stop and ask ourselves “What comes next?” All classrooms have routines in place. There are behavior-centered routines for classroom management, and there are metacognitive routines for learning and comprehension.
Some routines are inherent to the situation: before class begins, students file through a narrow opening into an enclosed space. (For some of us, the routine consists mostly of standing in the doorway, shooing barely-on-time kids into the room and urging them into seats.) Some of them are consciously developed over time to achieve a specific goal: when I need your attention, I clap twice and you clap once and respond verbally before falling silent and looking at me.
You probably have routines for assigning work, for collecting homework, and for distributing readings and resources to your students. (If you are Google-savvy or a regular reader, you may already be using tech to fine-tune these processes.)
Take a quick inventory of the tech that you currently (or would like to!) use regularly with your students. You may have some technology available that you’re hesitant to use because you don’t want it to pull focus from the instruction and learning tasks at hand.
We know that the point of educational technology is not the tech itself, but the additional learning opportunities it can provide. Just like routines for common occurrences such as students excusing themselves to the restroom, and for infrequent events like fire drills, routines for getting out, using, and putting away classroom technology will prevent distraction and keep the focus on education.
What are some routines you might want to put in place?
- getting devices out
- logging in / powering on devices
- opening frequently used programs
- transitioning attention away from the device to classmates or the teacher
- turning off and putting away devices
What are the benefits of tech-use routines?
- manage class time effectively
- students always know what is expected of them
- minimize student confusion and loss of attention
- maintain high standards for self and others
- allow greater independence, accountability, and responsibility for students
- emphasizes that you value student work (as well as the devices themselves)
Remember that it takes a lot of repetition for something to become habit. Don’t be afraid to invest time in the beginning. Building good habits that allow students (and teachers) to get the most of out of available classroom tech will yield great rewards in the long run.