Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Tuesday Slice: Routine is underrated

"Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.
Let me learn from you, love you, savor you, bless you before you depart.
Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow."
--Mary Jean Irion

The older I get, the more I value routines.

My morning routine at home, performed alone in the quiet pre-dawn hours, sets the tone for my day.  I am able to breathe, collect my thoughts, wake up gently and prepare for work without feeling too rushed.  I plan my clothes for the week every weekend and lay them out each night, one less daily decision I need to make--decision fatigue is real among us educator-types.

My morning routine at work helps me prepare for the day ahead, too.  I turn on the lights, flat panel computer, circulation desk computer, and office laptop on the way to stowing my jacket and purse.  I scoop up my phone, reading glasses and water tumbler, leaving my tumbler by the door, as I head to the hallway to greet students, help out at the front door, and take care of library visitors.  As soon as the last bell rings, I fill up my water tumbler and get the computers logged in for the day's work.

That school routine worked, and then it was disrupted, will be disrupted for the foreseeable future with new duties to attend to most mornings.  I now need to wake up earlier, be at work earlier, to attend to library setup before heading to my new duty each day.

I would be lying if I said I didn't resent this change.  I  know I will get over the resentment, will learn to work with the new schedule.  I am hoping it benefits the teachers it will serve.

This change got me thinking about how often we have done this to students and teachers these past two years.  With so much uncertainty brought by the pandemic, shouldn't we be focusing on routines right now?  Teachers know that consistent routines go far in classroom management.  Children thrive in an environment where they know what's happening next, especially when their after-school lives may be chaotic.  We adults benefit from the same conditions, too.

Daily routines may sound mundane, but there is flexibility within that framework.  I learned that when serving fifty-seven classes a week in the library at my previous school; a weekly routine allowed for the occasional disruption (emphasis on occasional) without much to-do--or resentment--and gave me the time to serve all of my students.  I'm hoping this latest change will be the last one for a good long while.  Routine days are a treasure.


  1. "Routine days are a treasure." Wow, reading this made me realize why I'm so bothered by the week of dress-up days and changed routine. And it seems to happen more often this year. Just this week we have crazy dress day and beach attire day. Of course, I do not have to participate, but it messes with the kids, too. Thanks for this thoughtful post.

  2. Ahhh, routines. I thought I didn't like them, but maybe it comes with age too. Then again, I've always been an old soul, I like to know what's coming. I've been debating this with the 'tween, trying to help from the nagging overwhelm that too many of our kids are experiencing right now, at school and at home. But, as tweens do, everything is an emphatic NO! A hard no. No, no, and no. Sigh... I hope there is not yet another disruption coming your way. Seems like curveball are coming from everywhere, still.

  3. I loved this line in particular: "Daily routines may sound mundane, but there is flexibility within that framework." Your post reminded me that the brain is a pattern-seeking device; I can almost imagine it buffering like a laptop trying to connect to faulty wifi when routines aren't in place. Routines allow us to preserve needed energy vs. running out of juice - we all benefit from them, indeed!

  4. If I didn't know better, I'd insist you were listening in on a conversation I had with my husband earlier today. It's so comforting to know that I'm not crazy for coming to the same conclusions. In lieu of that, I am elated to know that a seasoned educator sees the value and benefit in the art of routines, even if it is externally adjusted. Thank you so much for sharing. ~Carla Michelle

  5. Routine days are a treasure, indeed. Your observation about how many times we've disrupted routines in the past two years hits home, too. This is part of our exhaustion. May you settle into your new routine soon.

  6. Chris, your nice calm writing is so pleasant in this slice. Your voice is convincing. I hope there will be more and more routine for the sake of students and teachers alike.