Collective acceleration

Automating routines, faster

Yo 👋

Hope you’re looking after yourself. This week, we’re wrapping up our series on routines by unpacking the concept of collective acceleration

Big idea 🍉

Routines have the potential to be powerful tools for student learning and responsive teaching. However, their power is only unleashed once they become automated.

It can take anywhere between 20 to 60 repetitions to achieve automation... which could be weeks or months, depending on how often the routine gets run. However, we can accelerate the adoption and power of a routine by running it in multiple classrooms.

Let's say a questioning routine (such as the use of whole-class finger voting) takes 50 repetitions to reach automaticity. If I'm a secondary Art teacher, it could take me 10 weeks to get to this point. By contrast, if every teacher in my school is using the SAME ROUTINE, then it will only take 1 week for my students to automate that routine.

The whole process will have been accelerated by a factor of 10 🚀

Not only does this mean that those students will end up being able to think more about the content of their learning and so experience greater success, but they will also feel a greater sense of shared ritual and so feel like they belong more too.

And it makes the work of teaching so much easier... which can be especially helpful for new members of staff.

In short, the time it takes for a routine to release its power is a function of the number of staff doing it.

Now, I used to think that being consistent in this way was an affront to my professional autonomy... but now I understand that I was really just being a bit selfish. As teachers, we serve our students, and if that means taking a united approach, then bring it on.

Note → This force multiplier works best when all staff use exactly the SAME ROUTINE... the same sequence of actions, and crucially: the same cue. If you want to go down this route, then it's vital to get together and agree on an approach that everyone is happy to deploy with high levels of consistency.


  • We can accelerate the adoption and power of a routine by running it in multiple classrooms.

  • This works best when all staff use the same routine... the same sequence of actions and the same cue.

  • Being consistent in service of your students is the height of professionalism.

For double the links (this week: on ‘time poverty’ and educational equity, mindfulness in schools, and improving word problem performance), sign up to Snacks PRO → join here

Onwards, even faster together.

Peps 👊