It’s the start of a new school year – and with that time of year, comes lots of excitement for both the educators and the students. Knowing how to start the school year off on the right path is critical for all involved. The key is Routines and Procedures.
Did you know you can maximize instructional time and gain more room in the day for learning and achievement if all students learn the routines early and understand their purpose? It’s important to give all students an opportunity to learn the ways in which the classroom is most effectively and efficiently run. Research shows (Wong and Wong, 2004) that the better the students are versed in the routines and procedures in the classroom and school, the happier they’ll be about not only using them but about their learning time being valued and appreciated.
Start with EXPECTATIONS. You can begin with your own. What do you want the students to know and do? What is important for them to understand? If you are in a diverse community, make sure to effectively consider what students may or may not know when entering your class this year and make allowances and set routines accordingly.
- the procedure for leaving the room (bathroom, nurse, library, mentors, etc.)
- acquiring materials (pencils, hall pass, paper, textbooks, etc.)
- transition(s) from one task to another
- support or assistance of teacher/classroom adult
- supplies: do I need any? which ones? what if I can’t afford/find it?
Can’t think of anything? Imagine what would be an obstacle to maintaining instruction; think about what interruptions could be avoided, what breaks the learning vibe and could easily be adjusted to keep everyone on task? Those are areas in which you can establish a routine, procedure or expectation. Start small with a few key ones and build from there as the weeks pass.
Don’t forget the biggies: expectations for affective standards like:
- Staying positive and persevering on a task
- Do your best no matter what (then try to better it)
- Respect people, places and things at all times
- Kindness and Generosity: they go a long way to making a happy classroom, etc.
ROUTINES & PROCEDURES:
These don’t happen without practice. You MUST verbalize and practice, over and over again in a patient and positive (upbeat) way, how you want these routines and procedures established. Students will happily follow your direction but you must give them some to begin with and stick with it! Write down on anchor charts your routines and procedures and refer to them often in the early days of the year; they’re always great items to review after a break (vacations, holidays, etc.) and to use when new students arrive during the year. Have a student ambassador review the charts with the new student(s) to save time and create class leaders and a collaborative atmosphere.
So those suggestions are:
- practice, practice, practice!
- write them down!
- be patient and calm if students need a gentle reminder
- make sure the routines & procedures align with your expectations
- allow students to remind and support each other with learning R&P
- ALWAYS commend proper use and correct improper use
A favorite is “Ask 3 before me.” Encourage students to ask three others in their table groups or class before they approach the teacher with any question. Usually by the third person, the student no longer needs to come to the teacher for answers.
Another is “Question chip.” Use a palm-sized template or uniform-shape chip of some kind as a question chip. Each table grouping or pair gets how ever many ‘chips’ you feel is appropriate to handle questions for that day. Once the chips are gone, they can no longer ask questions of the teacher or of others in the class. They MUST solve their problems or answer their questions themselves. Use in the early days of the school year, they cut down substantially on students who like to wander or those who need more support listening to initial instructions.
CHECKLIST: Use a checklist to help students remember your expectations for smooth classroom operation and to help follow the routines and procedures. You can put them on simply 8.5×11″ computer paper, and divide the page into 4 quadrants, then on each sheet make 4 check-lists. It saves paper, makes the check-list less intimidating and easy to use, and you can even laminate them so students can use whiteboard markers to self-assess their progress daily.
Teaching Classroom Routines
Routines and Procedures to Start the Year Right
Routines and Procedures
The Well-Managed Classroom by Harry Wong
Harry Wong Classroom Management
NEA (National Education Association) Classroom Management
Routines and Procedures for Managing Your Classroom
Pinterest for Routines and Procedure suggestions
20 Things You Can Do in 10 Minutes for a Smoother Running Classroom