Before getting into the nitty gritty of planning some actual maths lessons for the new school year, my mind has been swirling around some principles for how I manage my classes next year. Routines don’t come naturally to me, I used to actively avoid them in my previous life before teaching. After the last few years, I feel I have learnt the hard way and have now come to truly appreciate the power of a good routine established with a class.
Many of these routines are whole-school and I intend to embrace these as much as I can next year, having previously maybe been a bit sneery of such things. For example, the lesson-entry routine in our school is great. All pupils stand behind chairs on entering. They can get their equipment books out, etc. They can have a look at the activity that will be on the board. But they don’t sit down until we have a chorus of “Good morning, Mr Horley”. They do this in every lesson (up to and including Year 11) and it is well-established school-wide. It gives a nice, clean positive start to the lesson and encourages oracy right from the start.
However there is only so far whole-school approaches can define routines, individual teachers need to fill in the gaps with the minutiae of the detail in the routines of their own classrooms that build upon the whole-school principles.
At some point I will attempt to write the details of my routines for each class. At this stage, here are my principles:
- Say it simply. I want my pupils (and my!) mental energy to be devoted to doing maths not remembering routines. Whatever I do has to be easy to explain to the most overloaded Year 7. I need to do it in small chunks. It’s important to get routines established early but let’s aim for the first week rather than everything in the first lesson.
- Say why. I have a mantra for next year: as far as possible every “rule” will come with “and this is why we do it this way”. Hopefully they will agree it’s a good idea, be more likely to remember it and be more likely to follow it!
- Reiterate, constantly. If they don’t get it all in the first week, not a problem because I will be reiterating consistently throughout the year. I need to avoid veering “off message” to try to liven things up, which I am prone to doing. A bit of boring repetition is not actually all that boring for kids if it is done with positivity and becomes “the thing we do”.
- Do it collaboratively with the department. Back to my initial paragraph, my classroom does not exist as an island in my pupils’ lives. As a team we need to constantly discuss what we do consistently across the department, and what we have autonomy on. Even where we have autonomy, we should aim to share ideas, especially with the new members of the team. It’s difficult to find time to meet formally so it is more likely to be the informal chats in the office where this gets done.
Next is to get into the detail for each class…