Managing Classroom Routines: It’s Like the Superbowl

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UTA’s Department Chair of Curriculum and Instruction and Associate Dean in the College of Education, Dr. John Smith, shares a football analogy for helping to streamline behavior routines and transitions in the classroom.

What are your thoughts on Dr. Smith’s football analogy? What works in terms of setting expectations and establishing routines for transitions and management in your classroom? If you are not yet teaching, what have you heard about “what works”? -Dr. Peggy Semingson, Blog Admin.

A teacher managing students in a classroom is much like a quarterback managing the players on a football team.  One of my favorite quarterbacks is Peyton Manning, the superbowl-winning quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts.  Before he says Hike, he looks to see where each player on his team is positioned and on most plays he directs one or two of them to move into a better position.  Watch him, and other quarterbacks, moving players around before the ball is snapped.  It’s only when he is convinced that each player is in the right place and knows exactly what to do that he says hike and begins the play.

Classroom management is much the same.  Before I transition into a new activity, I always say to my students, “When I say the word Go, here is what I want you to do.” That statement freezes them.  Then I give 2-3 procedural directions for the transition and the next activity.  After giving the directions, I’ll ask, “Does everybody know what to do?  Are there any questions?”  When I’m convinced that all of the students know what to do, then I’ll say the word Go, much like a quarterback says Hike.  Often I change the word Go to something else, just for variety.

It’s being totally clear that the students know what to do and starting together that makes all the difference. When I don’t say the statement my students will often start into the activity as soon as they think they know what to do, and then it disintegrates. 

I have used this strategy with elementary school students, college undergraduates, and even graduate students. I hope it works for you.

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Creative Commons Texas Longhorns vs Florida Atlantic University by Randall Chancellor is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The brief podcast that connects to this topic, also by Dr. John Smith, is below! Have a listen!

What Can Football Teach Us About Classroom Routines? Advice From Dr. John Smith by Uta New Teachers on Mixcloud

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