Most mornings lately I have granola, yogurt, and fresh fruit for breakfast. It is healthy, filling, delicious, and easy. I don’t have to think too much about it when I get up and have a thousand other things vying for my attention. I can eat it on the go. It doesn’t get soggy if I get pulled away from it for a little bit. Routine can be a great thing.
But in a month or a week or maybe even just a couple of days, I will get granola-ed out and want to change it up. I might have toast and eggs, I might have Cheerios, I might even have last night’s leftovers. Regardless, granola will no longer be on the menu and my routine will change.
My breakfast habits may seem like an odd way to begin a blog about education, but bear with me for a moment here and think about it. Routine is touted as a magic bullet in the classroom. Teachers are told in teacher education programs that establishing a routine is essential for getting their classroom to run smoothly. And don’t get me wrong, I regularly make use of routine in my classroom (and my life) too. It can be really nice to have students come in and know what to do without asking or not whine about homework because they are assigned it every day and therefore expect it.
But sometimes we all need something besides granola.
Similarly, when you are planning your lessons, don’t be scared to change up your routine. It not only isn’t irresponsible and crazy, but it also is sometimes necessary. Routine can get boring, and boring gets you nowhere. I am a big advocate of journaling, but if you start with it every day, it can get old. I love DOLs and Daily Paragraph Editing (I know, it makes me a bit of a nerd…I like sentence diagraming too!), but they loose their flair if they are the only way you ever start.
So with this in mind, I encourage you to seriously consider your routine. If you are someone who has taught for many years and routine is ingrained, try some variety. This doesn’t mean you can’t always start with bell work, but instead of always using a DOL every day, try putting in some journal questions or quotes to discuss. Do a dictionary practice or a few minutes of silent reading. If you are new to the classroom, pick several things you want to use within your routine and keep it variable.
You must find what works for you, but here are a couple of ideas:
- Every Monday/Wednesday/Friday do one type of thing and on Tuesdays/Thursdays do another.
- Try having the bell work for the day, whatever it might be, on the board when the students come in, but don’t have any pattern to what you do on any given day. This one definitely keeps the kids on their toes and allows you to fit your mood.
- Have a list of tasks posted or handed out to the kids each week or month, and each student picks what he or she wants to work on once they finish their work.
Regardless of what you decide to use, it has to be the right fit for your classroom. Whatever you do though, don’t decide that because granola is great and you started with it, you always have to have granola. Try eggs and toast one day and maybe even last night’s spaghetti another.
This Week’s Featured Product
A fun way to review for a test or last year’s lessons, this activity covers definitions, common and proper nouns, concrete and abstract nouns, plural, compound, possessive and collective nouns, conjunctions, and appositives. While having students work by themselves or in pairs, students review the unit by visiting stations around your room and answering questions at each. For more details or to purchase this product, click here!
This Week’s Journal Questions
For the teacher: What is the best part about starting a new year?
For the student: What is one thing you love about school? What is one thing you wish were different?
A Recipe from My Kitchen:
- 5 ears fresh sweet corn (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 2 eggs, separated
- 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon sugar (or less)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- Cut/scrape the kernels from ears of corn. Place it and corn milk in a large bowl.
- Stir in beaten egg yolks, flour, sugar, salt, and pepper.
- Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form.
- Fold egg whites into corn mixture.
- Heat large skillet or griddle on stove over medium heat. Spray it with non-stick cooking spray or grease it with butter or oil.
- Drop batter in half cup portions onto hot skillet. Cook until lightly browned on bottom side and then flip. Do not press down on fritters as you cook–this will flatten the air out of them.
- Once both sides are browned, remove from griddle and serve immediately.