To identify the overt and tacit content of classroom rules, routines and understandings

Aim

To identify the overt and tacit content of classroom rules, routines and understandings.

Evidence and reflection

Asking the pupils is an obvious first step. With care, this can be done either in discussion or might be introduced as a written activity. Young children might be asked to make up stories about ‘naughty children at school’ and to explain things that they might have done or ‘should have done’. Students usually enjoy such activities, and they may make it possible to increase awareness of tacit understandings. Another interesting method is to focus notes on key routines, for instance, at transitions points in classroom processes through the day. Try to identify the ‘switch signals’ and notice the way the teacher monitors the effectiveness of the routine and renegotiates or asserts if it begins to fray.

Extension

A further way to gather information on tacit expectations is to study the patterns which exist in what people do. Observation, using a notebook to record such patterns, is one possibility. A more explicit method is to record the events which lead to pupils being reminded of ‘the way we do things here’ or to being ‘told off’. These could be noted during observation, or a video recording could be made of a session for later analysis.