Friday, August 26, 2011

Routine Shmoutine

I do not, in the slightest, think of myself as a routine person. My body does not fall into a regular schedule and neither does my mind. I often fly by the seat of my pants for cooking dinner, getting up in the morning, or weekend or vacation plans. But I do, however, have some household chores each day and a flexible weekend schedule for laundry, grocery shopping, and whatnot.

It's a bit how I was brought up. We made it to the required activities on time and always kept a calendar for important events, but our beds were not made and our items were not always in order. And that was and is just fine.

But when you step into my classroom, routines are the name of the game. In reflecting, I don't believe I meant for this to be my motto, but that's what's happened.

During the tumultuous time that is the beginning of school, I have spent a great deal of time introducing, reviewing, practicing, and living the routines of my classroom. My throat is raw. Routines are falling into place, but they are not fully established. We still have a long way to go but there are moments where I sit back in awe of how far we've come in just a week and a half.

Without routines my classroom would spiral out of control, but with them I can hear myself think. I can check in with each student at the beginning of class and they can be independent for the first 20+ minutes of class, for now. The routines actually allow for flexibility during my lessons, which may seem absurd.

This year I have an Aspberger student in my classroom. He only comes to a few periods a day and then leaves at lunch. My class was chosen because we have a routine and it's calm. But the fly-by-your-seat teacher gets a bit nervous with this!

You see, my planning period is anything but routine and calm. During the first two periods of the day I am at my computer, in the office, back to my computer, printing to the library, retrieving paper from the library, checking with special ed, meeting with gifted resource teacher, back to the office, back at my computer, to the teachers lounge to make a copy, back to my classroom to set up the board, whoops!- back to make one last copy, and then rushing back because the students are coming.

My lesson plans are done and typed on Sunday night, but I always email them out with the disclaimer that they are "flexible." I often come up with a better idea during my planning period and then I scrap the intial plan, sometimes. Other times I follow the plans to a tee.

But the routine(s) save the day, as the student knows what to expect when he comes to class. There will be a "To Do" on the SMARTBoard with an editing assignment and writing prompts and the day's agenda will always be on the chalkboard. I normally eek that in during the last 5 minutes before the students arrive!

So, I suppose that perhaps I do fall into a routine. A fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants planning period that makes it look like I have everything together during those last few minutes.

And look, it's around 9:30 PM. Boy am I tired! Time to head for bed, as usual.


  1. Go, Kathe! Last year, I had three cases of aspergers (one was an "asperger's-like-syndrome," whatever that meant. . . ) and an autistic girl in my class. 4 out of 22. It was awesome. And 2 of those kids have such a big piece of my heart that I cried when they left at the end of the year. (The other two were great, too.) I have a coupla tricks and tips. Let's talk. And read about it. It's a fascinating condition.

  2. Great post, Kathe! You are the daughter of a brilliant teacher who is amazing at planning and execution, and me, the seat-of-the-pants-music education-based on Orff/Kodaly/Dalcroze-type teacher. You are off to a great start with your own special talents and characteristics!