Thursday, 17 November 2016 09:14

Routines and Rituals

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Earlier this year I had the great opportunity to attend Harvard University's Dr Mark Church's seminar on Visible Thinking. Dr Church presented on the value of making thinking visible in the classroom and how to create time and space for thinking to occur and develop in the classroom. 

Dr Church gave examples of thinking routines in the classroom. Routine is, of course, a loaded word meaning that an action is repeated to the point that it becomes habitual and part of your everyday being. One of his routines he used and we viewed a video of in action, was 'Claim, Support, Question' Claim -idea or belief about the topic, Support - What supports that idea? Question - What isn't answered? What's left hanging? - the nice thing about this was how it could work over a period of time as students used the routine to test their claims as they gained new information.

For our next professional development session at Phoenix Academy, we will be asking teachers to consider their own routines in the classroom and to consider the principles behind them. Are they routines or rituals?


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  • Comment Link Daniela Multari-Cugola Wednesday, 07 December 2016 15:55 posted by Daniela Multari-Cugola

    Routine is a very important part of encouraging autonomous learning. Once students understand classroom routines they can take control of their learning, and engage more in activities they are already familiar with. The learning environment needs to be a comfortable and safe place, where learners will be much more willing to take risks with their language.

  • Comment Link Antony Atkinson Wednesday, 07 December 2016 14:24 posted by Antony Atkinson

    Glad you got a lot out of it Xav and Rebecca. I guess this is a little example of reflective practice that we heard something of recently from Professor O'Donaghue.

  • Comment Link Rebecca Westphal Tuesday, 29 November 2016 16:09 posted by Rebecca Westphal


    I agree with your last comment that, in the best case, our (teachers') routines and rituals should benefit both us and our students. This is something that I find sometimes gets lost in the craziness of daily life as a teacher.

    The PD did well to bring teachers back to focusing on what and why we do what we do. I also thought it was great to see that we all had differences in what things (pre-teaching vocab, asking concept checking questions, etc.) we always do, sometimes do, occasionally do, or almost never do. The reason this was so interesting was because it was made clear that just because you may not pre-teach vocab doesn't mean that you are doing something wrong (even if it goes against our CELTA training). As long as we can justify why we do things and show that it benefits our students, we are able to decide for ourselves what is appropriate for our classes. I truly believe that after having taught for a good amount of time (granted, this may be different for each person), teachers feel what is right for their students.

    Thanks Xav and Antony,

  • Comment Link Xavier Bot Tuesday, 29 November 2016 15:39 posted by Xavier Bot

    Antony, I'm looking forward to the PD. Routines and rituals often make our work easier. I also think these can be of benefit to students especially as they support them in being more autonomous. An example is, at the start of the day where in most levels I start the day with a speaking topic and then move on to writing peer-correction. The latter is a reason for students to finish the writing the day before, teaches them the need to edit their work and they will have their writing on the table before I have to ask them.

    Are your routines there to reduce your workload, then I feel you might want to reconsider these as your students are not necessarily benefiting from these. Of course in the best case they benefit both you and your students.


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