The Silent Hero
My alarm blares and my first instinct is to hit snooze, begging for just five more minutes. But instead, I force myself out of bed pausing for just a second as my feet hit the floor. Then, without thought, I head to the bathroom, shower, dry my hair, brush my teeth, and get dressed. I don’t think about any of these daily habits; I just do them. this is my daily routine.
As I go through my daily regimen, my mind drifts effortlessly to the day ahead. I visualize the day, I think about what I will need to prepare when I get to school, I reflect on the first lesson of the day, and I plan and practice the language I will use in the lesson.
My morning routine is consistent, and this consistency brings me comfort. I know what I need to do and what order I do it in, and it all works out wonderfully unless something throws off my routine. Bumps in a trusted regimen can result in mismatched shoes, a bad hair day, or worse. I depend on my routines; they’re my silent hero.
The silent hero of predictable routines can be an asset in our writing workshops. When the schedules and routines are established, practiced, and consistent students are free to focus on the task of writing. With predictable workshop procedures, students can depend on having time to learn from you, time to write independently, and time to share each day. When students develop a trust in their schedules, tools, and peers, they think about the tasks of the workshop with confidence and purpose.
Establishing Routines and Procedures
Begin with a clear and consistent schedule and instructional framework. Consider the traffic patterns of transitioning to the meeting space, to writing spaces, and then back to the meeting area for a closing share. I find working with students to plan efficient and clutter free traffic paths helps to ensure students honor these patterns throughout the year.
Ask students to look for convenient places to keep the tools necessary for writing. Look for multiple areas in your room where writers can depend on finding paper, pencils, technology, pens, and any other writing essentials. Make students responsible for keeping these areas stocked by keeping a backup stock within reach of the students. Student responsibility is an excellent way to encourage ownership.
When procedures are developed with the input of our students, they are respected by the students and work more consistently. Sit down with your class, have a conversation about how they’re feeling about the workshop, the location of the tools, and the traffic patterns in your classroom. When students share their ideas, listen to them, ask them what changes they would make, and let them do it! Live with the changes for about a week and then revisit the changes. Ask the students if they’re working. Do we need to make any adjustments?
Be the Silent Hero
As your class shares, be flexible and responsive to their thoughts. The students are the ones who work to learn in this environment.
Procedures allow us to complete our daily tasks without worry of what’s next. Our minds are free to think about the important parts of our day, the learning.