Research School Network: Blog: Routines for relationships – three conversations Hannah Heron explores the importance of routines for relationships


Blog: Routines for relationships – three conversations

Hannah Heron explores the importance of routines for relationships

by Research Schools Network
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Hannah Heron is the Content Specialist for Learning Behaviours at the EEF and a Primary School Leader based in Manchester.

It’s 8.50am on a drizzly Manchester day. As my class of Year 2s remove their wellies and raincoats in the cloakroom, I hurry to the classroom door to start my daily habit of meeting each of my pupils.

Today, Frankie rushes to be the first. It was his birthday yesterday and he is keen to tell me all about it.

Next up is Amina, who is uncharacteristically quiet. I make a mental note to monitor how she is throughout the morning and check in with her later.

Then comes Leo, who has communication and language needs. He points to the visual symbol representing the waving hand and skips happily into class.

As we return to the classroom after the summer break, re-establishing good habits is at the forefront of many teachers’ minds. This applies both to healthy personal habits, such as cycling to work, and our teaching habits based on what the evidence tells us about best bets’ for improving pupil outcomes.

LB blog

Effective learning behaviours rely on bringing key areas from the EEF’s guidance reports on improving behaviour, metacognition and self-regulated learning, special educational needs in mainstream schools, working with parents, and social and emotional learning together, to provide wrap around support for every child in our schools. 

If we put a child at the centre of the pentagon, what does it tell us about what is working well and what support we might need to put in place? To know and understand how the pieces of the learning behaviours puzzle interact for the individual, it is vital that we get to know our pupils.

Routines for relationships: make time for three conversations


Greeting each pupil individually is a time smart way to signal to children that we value them. It enables us to assess how pupils are feeling as they come into the classroom and respond appropriately.

Finding opportunities for non-learning conversations can help us to get to know pupils’ strengths and interests.

Parents / Carers

Get to know parents and carers, celebrating individual pupil successes.

Which parents do you want to meet at the gate or pick up the phone to within the first few weeks?

What positive messages will you share?

What practical strategies might you helpfully discuss?


Share observations with your school SENCo to help develop a deeper understanding of individual needs. For instance, responding with small tweaks:

Change Sally’s carpet spot so she has a clear view of your face.

Facilitate Sami leaving class a minute before breaktime to avoid the noisy rush that he finds distressing.

Making space for these three conversations may help build our relationship routines, creating conversation and taking those crucial first steps towards effective learning behaviours.

Further reading / listening

Evidence into Action Podcast Episode 2

Blog: What are effective learning behaviours and how can we develop them?

‘Habits of Success’ - Harry Fletcher Wood, 2022

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