When the trouble starts

Staff development network

Dr Mark Dowley February 20th, 2024 · 2min read

The evidence

Mid-term is generally the week that student disruptions begin to increase during classes. Often it takes a bit of time for students to test boundaries in class and for the reported disruption to reach parents and pastoral leaders.

Often at this time, a teacher will (or should) seek the support of a coach to help. If a teacher has a challenging class, the first place we support them is with the starting routine.

With that in mind, the evidence this week is a short article from Author of Motivated Teaching- Peps Mccrea. It combines two important topics in education – routines and attention.

Key points

  • A routine is a chain of actions that gets executed on a cue, with minimal cognitive effort or conscious control
  • When a routine is established, students think less about the how of their learning, and more about the what of your teaching
  • This is powerful because human attention is limited, and attention leads to learning

Routines redeploy attention, allowing the student to focus on what matters.

Link: Routines redeploy attention (pepsmccrea.com)

What you can do:

  • Create clear routines across year levels or faculties:
    • 7-9 English classes might start with 10minutes of silent, wide reading.
    • Year 4 classes begin with a mindfulness activity after lunch every day.
    • All mathematics classes begin with a 10-minute retrieval practice activity.
  • Explicitly teach the importance of routines to your students.
  • Give parents recommendations on how to develop routines in their child (see Routine – Crowther Centre)
  • Explicitly teach the power of routines to your colleagues Practical Classroom Management and Behaviour Management (thinkific.com)

In your next meeting, ask your team to share:

  1. Their morning routine and see how it frees up attention
  2. What a starting routine might look like in their classes
  3. Are there any consistent routines we might want to move towards as a team?


Happy coaching,

Would you like to receive these newsletters to your inbox?
Subscribe to the Staff Development Network.


Latest research on instruction

Staff development network

Dr Mark Dowley February 15th, 2024 · 2min read

The Impact of Student Engagement on Academic Achievement and Wellbeing

Staff development network

Dr Mark Dowley February 5th, 2024 · 2min read

Unlocking the Science of Learning

Staff development network

Dr Mark Dowley January 30th, 2024 · 2min read

Do you want to be part of our Staff Development Network?

Sign up to receive our newsletter