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There is a fair amount of literature and support for having “routines” in the classroom (see Study Finds That “Hands-On” Math & Proactive “Routines & Procedures” Increase Test Scores AND Student Engagement ; Peps Mccrea’s reflections on them here; and A Look Back: Project Zero’s “Thinking Routines Tool” Is An Excellent Resource).

My classroom “routines,” for example, include “walk-in” procedures that students know to begin as soon as they enter my classroom (reading a book or online, watching Brainpop videos on their laptop) and how we do “speed-dating” to share completed work.

I, however, haven’t seem much research on the idea of “rituals” in the classroom, however.

In fact, I hadn’t thought much of the difference between the two until I recently read a piece in Vox titled Why we need rituals, not routines.

Yes, the headline is “click-baity,” and we obviously need both, but it did get me thinking.

Here’s how the article defines “rituals”:

Currey describes a ritual as an activity that eases a person into a focused mindset, a liminal state that is conducive for thinking, creating, or just being. “Rituals create and mark a transition towards a different kind of mental or emotional state,” he said. This can look different for every person, but it’s helpful to approach rituals as a soothing, meditative activity that allows the participant to be physically and mentally present.

Again, in my classroom, I think I’ve done a number of activities that meet that definition, and I’ve shared about them in Best Posts On Helping Students “Visualize Success”, I THINK THIS IS A BRILLIANT IDEA FOR AN OPENING CLASS RITUAL – HERE’S HOW I’M MODIFYING IT FOR DISTANCE LEARNING; I LIKE THE IDEA IN THIS NEW EDUTOPIA VIDEO: “60-SECOND STRATEGY: DAILY INTENTIONS” and This May Sound A Little Off The Beaten Track, But I Really Like This Series Of Lessons About Mantras & Want To Try It Next Year.

I don’t necessarily think this routine/ritual distinction is earthshaking, but I do think there’s value in us teachers being a bit more intentional in making sure we incorporate both in our classroom practice.

What do you think?

ADDENDUM: 4 Rituals To Keep You Happy All The Time is from Barking Up The Wrong Tree and The Hidden Power of Workplace Rituals is from The Harvard Business Review.