Creating Rituals and Routines in the Classroom During Virtual or Face-to-Face Instruction

Updated: Jun 22

Infographic explaining routines and rituals you can do with students

Rituals and routines are essential to positive classroom management and culture, and are part of effective Tier One antecedent strategies that support student engagement and social-emotional learning.

Understanding Rituals and Routines

Using classroom routines is a way to make a classroom run smoothly, contributing to the students’ overall sense of safety and well-being. Routines are teacher-created student-responsibilities that communicate expectations, including procedures to follow when entering and exiting the classroom, how to complete morning work (bellringers), how homework is collected, when and where to sharpen pencils, how and when to clean up for lunch, or something as simple as washing one’s hands after using the bathroom. Routines should be in place at the beginning of the school year and practiced with the class when coming back from long breaks (returning from holidays or stints of virtual learning). They are important because routines provide a structure that is predictable and helps the students build independence. When coming up with routines for the classroom, educators should think about what they want their students to do, how they want them to do it, and why they want them to do it.

Rituals, on the other hand, are activities that help build classroom culture and community. They help build student identity and foster a sense of belonging. Rituals include class songs, inside jokes, chants, and celebrations that support the greater classroom community. Rituals can also help teachers assess their students’ social-emotional functioning and help students self-assess their emotional state. Here are some examples of rituals and routines that you can use in your classroom, whether in face-to-face, virtual, or hybrid instruction.

Types of Routines

  1. What to do at the beginning or end of the day/period.

  2. How to collect assignments or hand out materials.

  3. Classroom jobs (this may look different in a virtual setting, but students can still be responsible for things like being an attendance clerk or timekeeper).

  4. Where and how to take a break.

  5. How to interrupt the teacher.

  6. What to do when you accidentally get kicked out of a virtual meeting or have technical difficulties.

  7. What to do when you’ve finished the work.

  8. What to do when you need help (C3B4Me, 5B’s – my brain, the board, a book, a buddy, the boss).

Types of Rituals


  1. Begin or end each day with a classroom meeting to review the day’s tasks for online learning, reflect on how the day progressed, and pose a fun question (“would you rather fly or be invisible?”).