Processes and Routines in the Classroom (part 2): Lightening the load

Processes and routines make all the relational aspects of a classroom community go smoother. They are the system that actually brings the freedom of a bustling learning community that looks boundless. If you look in my room by October, it may look chaotic and messy: Students moving about the space, respectfully and joyfully working on meaningful work. The processes and routines make that work.

I’ve been leaning into the ways that routines and processes can lighten the cognitive load for students and the work load for me as their teacher. Here are a couple of resources that I’ve found helpful:

Modern Classrooms Project

  • The Modern Classrooms Project calls for courses that are self-paced and mastery based, using teacher created videos and strong emphasis on the teacher conferring with groups and individual students. I’ve got my own spin on this, but there are so many helpful ideas in this space – MCP people are a great follow on Social Media.

Edu Protocol handbooks

  • The Edu Protocol handbook (there are a few versions) have different assignment templates. I am still experimenting with these, but I love the idea. Think of a graphic organizer (frayer model, story map, etc) – if you teach the students how to do the thing, then the details of the how to are lifted from the cognitive load. Even if it’s choice based, if you’ve taught the students how to make a “thick slide”, a “thin slide,” and an outline, for instance, you can introduce a topic, reading, etc and offer students the choice of protocols.

The other aspect is finding consistency and routines in digital or physical spaces. This is how we submit a photo of an assignment. This is where things are turned in or put away.

What if you could say goodbye to the copy machine?

I don’t love making copies. If students can show me their learning on blank sheet of paper I prefer it (and sometimes kids have been graphic organizered to the point of helplessness…and yes, I just made up a verb: organizered…don’t let it happen to you!). When a blank sheet of paper won’t do, having a catalog of repeatable options that students are familiar with will lighten the load for everyone!

If I’m having trouble during a particular time of the day or with a subset of students, I’ll ask:

  • What is the common thread in this challenge?
  • Is there a 2-4 step process I wish the students had followed?
  • How can I structure the physical space, the daily schedule, and the people involved to accomplish this?
  • Can we practice these ideas for 1 week together to see if we’ve solved it?

What processes and routines are working well for you?

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