A Good Metaphor Can Build a Solid Routine

Erin Klug

by Erin Klug

For Middle Level

I love good metaphors, and I enjoy exploring them with students.

They require students to think creatively and express their understanding in a unique manner by seeing similarities in things that seem very different.They can be used to express knowledge in content classes, and they can help students understand school routines and procedures and bridge school to the rest of their lives. And making meaningful connections can help boost their endorsement for Developmental Designs practices.

Here are a few of my favorite metaphorical connections.

Routines and clear expectations:
Clear expectations are like road signs on the highway because they keep us safe, help us avoid obstacles, and keep us headed in the right direction.

Routines help us build good habits. Habits are like rubber bands: they pull you back to what you've done in the past. When things go badly, you've got to break the old rubber band and take on a good new one, so you can snap back into a good routine.

Redirections are like rumble strips along the shoulder of a highway. They keep you alert and on the road.

TAB is like a cold drink on a hot day: you get a chance to pause from your activity and refresh.

Returning to the classroom from TAB Out and Back is like a new morning. You remember the previous day, but have the opportunity to wear new clothes and walk in a new direction.

I am like a hiking guide. I have expert knowledge about the forest and safe hiking, but there are several paths we could take on our hike. We can look at the map together and decide on the best path.

Signals for attention:
A signal for attention is like a timeout in a basketball game: when the coach calls for a timeout, play stops, and the team huddles up to listen.

Partner shares:
A partner share is like a tennis match because the ball (conversation) goes back and forth over the net. If the ball is hit out of the court, one player puts it back in play.

Using metaphors creates opportunities for students to personalize their experience of rules and protocols and to make connections to their own behavior. Students can be creative and funny with metaphors-especially adolescents!

I'm always looking for new metaphors. Please share a metaphor with me that you use with your students, or one that your students have created.