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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Strategy of the Week: Entry Routine

SLANT is working. Format Matters is still a work in progress that we will continue to work on for the rest of the year. Time to bring on week three: Entry Routine:

I almost feel silly for choosing this strategy. I have an entry routine. I have used a particular format for years now. When my students come in to class, a presentation slide is displayed with their instructions and agenda for the day. During this time, I welcome them into the classroom and take attendance. By the time I have finished that, they should be ready for class to start.  Monday's entry routine is already prepared (or at least I thought it was until I decided on this strategy):

As I told another teacher this week, just because something has "always been" does not mean that it continues to work or be beneficial. I know my entry routine has room for improvement, mostly because I struggle to get most of the students to actually look at it when they come in the classroom. My intention is that they come into the classroom, put their belongings down, read the instructions, and get to it. But that has not necessarily been made clear as a structured piece of class, rather than a free-floating, unattached bubble of information. 

I do not want to take away their opportunity to socialize within those first few minutes. I read a study somewhere at some point in time that discussed a natural need to people to talk to one another personally when entering a new environment. If you are like my colleagues and me, you know full well that you want to talk to your buddies before (and during) every meeting, professional development session, and break that you get. I know other teachers who have entry routines that are exactly the opposite, but this is one I am not willing to bend on. 

So how do I improve this to benefit not only the students but myself? One step, based on my reading of TLAC and evaluating my needs, is to change my Instruction bullets to numbers. I find myself repeating, quite often, that the steps are  meant to be followed in order. I have the order based on how I want them to move around the classroom as they enter, ending with them in their seats. I am going to try numbering instead to see if that makes a difference in how they perceive the importance or the order. 
Another suggested guideline in the book is to model and describe. Holy moly. I hate to admit this, but in all the years of having an entry routine, and in all my years of explicitly modeling lessons, I am not sure that I have ever explicitly taught my entry routine. Since I am also changing my seating arrangement Monday, I am going to have the students move to their new seats, then model my expectations for the entry routine. I will then have them leave the classroom, entering again, following the entry routine. 

With SLANT and Format Matters, I have been able to refer to classroom posters or use the terms within the lesson. This is a bit different. I am going to change my daily displays to say "Entry Routine for (date)" rather than only displaying the date. 

I am also going to create a sign that says ENTRY ROUTINE (short, sweet, and to the point) to hold in my hands as I greet my students at the door. Maybe a few days of this will enforce the expectation. Once they have the routine down on a consistent basis, I can pull out the sign as needed or hang it by the door. 

Another possibility, and one I have used in the past, is to record my voice saying something like, "Please remember to follow the entry routine immediately upon entering the classroom." I have learned that playing this on a loop becomes annoying quickly (even to me). The kids are usually begging me to turn it off after a couple of minutes. I think I will start this Tuesday and use it for a few days. As with the sign, I can always go back to it as needed. 

What is your entry routine for class? Have you found a magic routine that works incredibly well? I am always looking for ideas to steal. 
Total sidebar:
In looking up images of "steal,"
they were all of men. Hmm...


  1. I had to change my entry routine to target student management. Junior High kiddos, as you know, struggle with time. When they leave my classroom, they have literally left it behind. Parents struggle because they have no idea what their child is supposed to being doing. They ask, "Do you have homework?" and the response is, "No." Conversation is then complete. So three weeks ago I rounded up binders, dividers, and a planner template. I have the master copy. As they enter they open their planner and fill it in. Once they are done, they begin the first item on their planner. The exit has now become identify homework and write it down in the planner. It's time consuming and isn't what we are told the entry/exit should be about. However, my kids had to have something that could travel and be checked by their parents. Downside is my cohorts don't necessarily have a routine for this. The upside, parents like it and the kids have been commenting that it has helped them.

  2. This has helped a bit, but it's still not perfect. My students write down homework when they first come in. Maybe it would make more sense to fill out the agenda (all students have a planner provided by the school) at the end of class to make the connection to the homework. The truly sad part is that the only class filled out in most agendas is mine because I grade it weekly. Parents are clearly not checking.

  3. I love your blog. I just recently found it and have been reading for hours. So much good information. To ease homework confusion for both parents and students, I started using a weekly homework menu. Parents knew to look for it every Monday and that it was due every Friday. It was a great tool to use to differentiate for my students as well. Each activity that they could choose was designed to show me mastery of weekly learning goals but it allowed the students to choose activities that fit their personality. If you would like to see an example of one please email me at and I will share with you.