TECHNIQUE #50: Do It Again
‘Practice makes perfect’, although not referring here to content or academic rigor; #50 Do It Again relates to classroom routines, systems and procedures. Chapter 10 Systems and Routines¹ Reflection & Practice questions asks the teacher to itemize and establish the most important classroom routines; which procedures would you add to the list, which might you consider systematizing? My essential question is, just how many routines can you systematize good, I mean better, actually best?! Here are my picks from the WHAT TEACHERS SYSTEMATIZE list from the Useful Tools Chp. 10, Teach Like a Champion 2.0¹. :
- Enter/Exit Classroom
- Moving materials (paper shuffling)
- Asking Questions
- Answering Quesitons
- Note taking
- Turn and Talk
- Reading interactively/Shared reading
- Enter/Exit classroom
- Independent work
Do It Again requires that students practice the systematized routines, as many times as is necessary, until the procedure can be executed automatically, quickly, successfully to the highest standard. How successfully and efficiently can your students enter a classroom, pass out worksheets, responsibly participate in a paired discussion? “…as a simple and low-impact “consequence” for nonproductive behavior, as a tool for inculcating a culture of “always better”…”,(p.373)¹. There were some salient points and some rather obvious helpful hints. What is clearly important is that there has to be some dedication and commitment from the teacher herself/himself in order for the systematization of routines to become a reality. A serious commitment; a lot of this speaks to the beginning of the school year. Here is an amazing video clip from Uncommon Schools teacher Sarah Ott demonstrating Do It Again:
Building procedures and routines involves a lot of behavioral science; the need to Do It Again, and again, initially is can be effective with he following precepts in place:
- Shorten the Loop: As soon as you’re aware that the level of execution is not up to a high standard, don’t wait for the routine to end; reset immediately.
- Set a standard of excellence not just compliance.
- No administrative follow up: Attend to routines regularly, practice; correcting the “behavior” immediately, ‘in house’ requires no data entry, calls parents or administrators; set the record and the expectations straight, collectively.
- Promote group culture and accountability: Hold the group responsible in a non-punitive way; if one or two people are talking in an otherwise silent line entering a room; simply ask the whole group to try it again. Peer pressure works wonders.
- End with success: A great reason for Do It Again if it doesn’t meet high standards. If the last thing students do in a sequence of activities is done well it helps to ingrain the perception and memory of what right looks like.
This is a concise, no-nonsense video; it showcases an approach to systematizing procedure in the classroom from the Teaching Channel.
The online discussion that follows below the video is a very dynamic virtual dialogue on systematizing procedure and teachers’ reactions to its successes and challenges in the classroom. I’m working toward understanding the level of commitment and investment that standardized routines require. Yes, implementing routines effectively at the beginning of the school year is very important, but every teacher already, and instintually does a lot of soul searching about the tone they want to set on the First Day of school…. I like that Chapter 10 gives permission to begin again or hit the reset button at any point in the school year to implement new initiatives. Consistently, Teach Like a Champion 2.0¹ offers some practical ready to use and memorize prompts to promote the techniques; here are some great one-liners for Do It Again:
- “I still think we can do this better. Let’s give it one more shot!” (add a stop watch to the drill)
- Oooh, Let’s line up again and prove why we’re the best reading group in the school.”
- “That was good, but we want great!”
- “In this class, we’re going to strive to do everything world class; let’s see if we can use more expression when we read”
Established routines in a classroom truly are thing of beauty and save hours of wasted narrated instruction. Most importantly, I feel that young people need routine and guidelines in order to function well academically and behaviorally in classrooms and in real life.