In order to build a supportive classroom, students must feel a sense of recognition, belonging, and a desire to be there. Entry routines are short, fun activities that encourage a sense of belonging and recognition and promote positive transitions from home to school and between activities or classes. So often classes begin by instructors rushing right into the active side of learning, reading groups, lunch count, etc. Some students can feel lost. Entry routines facilitate classes beginning on a positive note and provide an opportunity for students to develop a learning frame of mind which enables them to focus their attention and energy on the next activity or class. When entry routines are effectively implemented and a sense of community is established, one can expect higher self-esteem, greater social support, better behavior, and improved attitudes toward school and teachers.

We have defined two types of entry routines, welcoming routines and transition routines. Welcoming routines occur the first time a group of students meets for the day and their goal is to promote a sense of belonging and recognition through greeting every student in a warm and friendly manner. Transition routines focus on re-grouping and orienting students to the next class or activity.

Students need to know the rules and behavioral expectations for each entry routine prior to engaging in the activity. The routine should be introduced, demonstrated, modeled and practiced so that each student can fully participate. It may be necessary to develop accommodations so that some students may participate in even the most basic routine. For example, a student with cerebral palsy may need a special bolster or peer buddies for support so he may join the morning circle. Or a student with a visual impairment may need verbal cues to participate in the morning greeting routine.

Entry routines occur at the opening of school, as the class transitions from one curricular area to another and/or at any point during the school day that a new class or group comes together. At a minimum, entry routines should occur once a day when all of the members of the class come together for the first time. At the elementary level, that is most likely the first thing in the morning (after all of the students have arrived). At the middle school level, it could be at the beginning of each period if students frequently change classes. The instructional support team will have to decide when the entry routine(s) will occur and if more than one should occur each day. Click here for a sample entry routine. The curriculum has several examples of welcoming and transition routines that have been used by instructional teams at different grade levels.