What are some of the predictable routines and instructions you use to help students become comforable with your classroom and its requirements?
Simply establishing the writer's community "workshop" format will be key at the beginning. The workshop will usually begin with a mini-lesson, a brief segment (five-twenty minutes) during which I'll deliver instruction--explain and model a strategy or technique, using think-alouds to reveal my thinking to the students.
As a result of this workshop, for the next step I will definitely build in a time for "Talking as Prewriting." Allowing the students time in small groups to talk through the topic or ideas before they break away on for independent writing their own seems so valuable to me.
Students then practice what they have learned in the mini-lesson during an independent reading/writing time. While students work independently, I will confer with them, either independently or in small groups. This independent time can also be used for literature circles or invitational groups based on shared needs or interests.
The daily workshop culminates in a time for sharing, when students share their writing or insights about their reading from that day. The format for such sharing can vary widely, depending on the purpose. If I want every student to share and talk about his work that day, I might choose a "pair share." If the goal is to hear every student, however, I'll choose a full-class "circle share" instead.