Rules or Routines?

Establishing a strong foundation for routines and expectations is critical at the beginning of each school year, so we started our morning with a whole school discussion to do just that.  But we first had to make an important distinction: What is the difference between 'rules' and 'routines'? This led to more questions: What are they? Why do we need them? How do they help us? When do we need rules and when do we need routines?  

We determined that rules are necessary to keep us safe and healthy, and routines help us to stay organized and help us to transition smoothly between activities throughout the day.  It was helpful to look at what happens when either are not followed; sloppy routines need reminders, while broken rules need consequences. With clear definitions and understanding, it was time to discuss and sort our HPDS rules and routines! The students and staff unanimously agreed that they preferred routines over rules, and we decided that we would set routines as much as possible and work together to remind each other until they became habit. In the end, we only had three definitive rules that are necessary to keep us safe and healthy, and everything else was a routine!

Well...almost everything.  It isn't like us at HPDS to put things in a box or a nice neat list.  So what of those that could be both rules and routines? Our students instantly dubbed these as "ruletines", of course!  "Ruletines" are routines until they become a problem - then they are enforceable rules that will require a consequence. That made sense to everyone.

Although it takes a great effort to lay the groundwork for a positive school culture, it is essential that we take the time to do it at the beginning of a new year. Establishing student expectations is only a small piece of the process, but a critical one. Effective routines lead to more time for the students to engage in their projects and opportunities for learning, and having the students be a part of building the routines helps them to take ownership and be more accountable.  

Thanks to the teachers' and students' enthusiasm and contributions during today's session, we're off to a great start and looking forward to a positive year ahead!