5 Great Routines to Establish in the First Weeks of Teaching in the Outback

The first few weeks in your remote outback classroom are really important in establishing routines that will make life easier for the rest of the term.

Routines create safety and reduce anxiety for your students. Routines help create calm or provide students with structures to help keep them on task while you deal with challenging behaviours of other students. Routines help reduce your planning.

In remote classrooms where students may have fluctuating, inconsistent or transient attendance. When they know the classroom routines it won’t matter if they come in late, have a week off sick or a month for Sorry Business. Your students can enter the classroom with confidence that they will know where to be and what to do. Routines minimize ‘shame’ and reduce one of the barriers to attendance.

What makes a good routine?

Before we discuss our top 5 routines to consider and why they have the power to transform your classroom and student engagement- we must consider what makes a good routine.

Good routines are:

  1. explicitly taught
  2. simple and clear
  3. followed and modelled regularly

Morning routines

We have very little control over life outside the classroom for our students.

Some arrive happy, healthy, full tummies and ready to learn.

Some of our students will come to school without having had breakfast, others may not have eaten for a while, some may not have had a great night sleep, others may not have slept at all, some may have witnessed domestic violence, others felt unsafe.

Our morning routine can act like a safety net, or a sieve- catching the students whose Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs have not yet been met and who are not yet ‘school way’. Depending on the age of your students the routine can help them learn to manage their own needs, or find the rights supports.

So what might a Morning Routine look like in your remote outback classroom?

  • Students arrive at school before the bell- they can access the breakfast program and board games, and use personal hygiene products in a specific room or space around the school
  • Student arrive at school before the bell- they can access the classroom to eat toast and orange juice, play puzzles on the mat and engage with the Aboriginal Education Assistant/Clontarf/Shooting Stars/Stars
  • Students arrive at school before the bell- breakfast space set up, teacher reads with students, other students play quiet games on the mat

Pack up after breakfast: this might be allocated student helper, school support staff, students clean their bowl after eating themselves.

Note- it is important to also have wrap around supports for the students that are ‘caught’ in your Morning Routine sieve:

  • do you have a list of ‘outside of the classroom jobs’ they can do one or two of to give them time outside the classroom to cool down?
  • is there a wellbeing room in the school where a counsellor/Clontarf/Stars/Aboriginal Education Officer can support students?
  • are there Individual Plans for students to identify strategies when they arrive at school not ‘school way’?
  • is there an administration staff member who can support with student wellbeing and the transition into class?

Entering the classroom

Depending on the Morning Routine will help dictate what your Entering the Classroom Routine will look like- students may be in class already, in a supervised space outside or in a breakfast room.

  • Some schools have a morning meeting where students line up on painted snakes or lines all together under cover, are given notices for the day or the PBS focus and are then invited into class.
  • Some schools have whole school morning fitness, they line up together and are then directed for games or activities to get energised for learning.
  • Some teachers have students line up at the front of the class, they explicitly direct students how to walk into the classroom
  • Some teachers begin the lesson outside through a game and then direct students into the classroom as students participate
  • Some teachers have silent reading, morning overview slideshow, attendance marking game or mindfulness yoga or a Indigenous Hip Hop video playing or Just Dance on the screen every morning to create a safe expected routine.

Bathroom routine

Bathroom routines are very important. Creating clear routines around toilet and drinks will help you remain in control and reduce distraction throughout your lessons.

A Bathroom Routine may look like:

  • Make the ‘T’ sign with their hand up silently and wait for the teacher to nod consent, shake head or put hand up to signal to wait. With consent the child writes name on a whiteboard by the door and goes to the bathroom.
  • Student puts up their hand and requests permission for the bathroom, they collect a toilet pass from by the door and go to the bathroom.
  • Student does not require permission but is only allowed two toilet passes per day to use- they must write their name with time in and time out by the door for teacher to track student movement.

Tip- teaching students how to use the bathroom responsibly may need to be explicitly modelled, this might include talking about what is and is not okay to do in the bathroom space (use toilet, wipe, flush, wash hands with soap, walk back to class quietly and directly vs not flushing, not washing hands, distracted along the way).

Note- bathroom and drinks can sometimes be excuses that our students use to move, get away from uncomfortable feelings or to meet an ‘unmet’ need. Planning in brain breaks and appropriate supports in your lessons is important when reducing student access to ‘outs’.

Be aware- students who have experienced sexual abuse, or urinary tract infections or who have experienced trauma may have issues with toileting. In the junior years, some of our students may not yet be toilet trained in a formal school setting yet, and may have never had to wait to use the bathroom.

Handing in work routine

Again this routine will look different depending on the age, activity and purpose of the work. Regardless of the routine you put in place it is important to have it considered and regularly practised.

You may create the routine that students put their spelling books on your desk at the end of spelling lesson, that the multiplication practice activities are peer marked by the shoulder partner, that random work is placed in your ‘Work In’ tray when requested. You might have the routine of ‘best work’ tray that students can place their work in whenever they are really happy with a piece of work- and that this is then photographed to show family via text or home visit.

End of the day routine

This calm End of the Day Routine has the potential to reinforce the learning, leave the classroom clean and ready for the next day, and set our students in a positive mind-frame about the next day. Getting your End of Day Routine right can be a powerful hook to increase attendance for the next day.

This may include:

  • Student jobs that get done at the end of the lesson, sit down for a shared reading of a great book
  • Students do their allocated end of day job (clean their desk, stack their chair), go to the mat and sit in a circle, teacher asks ‘ticket of leave’ question about what they learnt that day or their favourite part of the day etc, then teacher plays a game to end the day
  • Pack away before the song ends with teacher watching to see who picks up the ‘magic piece of rubbish’, teacher shares exciting ‘sneak peak’ for tomorrow

To learn more about routines, procedures and expectations- check out our courses and memberships or the class displays in our TPT store.

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Hi, we are Hakea Hustler and Carl Merrison

We help new remote teachers feel confident and successful  so that they can make the most of their time remote and live a life of adventure.

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