It would come as no surprise to anyone who knows us that the first date my wife and I went on in college was to see the movie Lean On Me, which tells the story of Principal Joe Clark and his efforts turn around a troubled school. Morgan Freeman in the lead role explains at one point that discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm. He knows that there must be some basic routines and procedures so that students and faculty can operate in a safe manner with each other, and that such an environment is then conducive to learning.
Yet there is another reason routine is important. Our children live in an unstable age. Think for a moment of the child teetering on the edge of the pool, eager to dive in, yet terrified at the prospect. She beckons mom or dad, who is standing with feet firmly planted just a few inches away. She laughs and giggles nervously, wanting to jump and not wanting to at the same time. The desire to explore is there, but she needs the comfort of the solid pool deck behind her and the trusted arms of a parent in front of her if she is to make the most of this yearning.
Our children are exploring so much during their school years. They want to take risks, yet they need stability and safety, and good classroom routines provide that. Oh, there are subtle differences from day to day in my classes, but there is also a comfortable predictability. The students know what they are going to get. It is why they are upset when there is a substitute teacher in the room.
So what keeps routines from becoming routine, as in boring and stifling? For that, check out Bill's podcast. I know Bill, and I can assure you this award-winning educator is as lively as they come.