Have you ever walked into a classroom and thought, “Wow, this classroom practically runs itself, everyone is on task!” Ever wonder how that happens? The answer is a lot simpler than you think. The secret is teaching explicit routines and procedures to students. In this post we are going to talk about why this matters so much and how to bring this magic into your classroom. By using these methods, you too will have a class that runs so smoothly, it’s like you’re not even there!
Rules, Routines, and Procedures, Oh My!
These three components are the backbones of your classroom management system. They are all different and extremely important to master. Let me paint you a picture of a classroom with a great foundation in place:
You walk into this classroom and you see EVERY student working hard. Some students are working independently, some students are working with a partner, and some students are working with the teacher. The students working without the teacher know how to get their needs met independently, they know where to turn in assignments, and they know how to work with a partner. Sound like a dream? It CAN happen.
By spending ample time at the beginning of the year thinking and planning, you can greatly reduce stress and worry for the remainder of your school year. Creating this foundation can also help you have a classroom that is a comfortable environment in which students THRIVE. When this happens, you can spend time doing what we all love… TEACHING. Let me help make back to school planning a BREEZE with the Teaching Timeline Freebie!
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Let’s discuss rules first. Rules are an important part of your classroom and make a big impact when created WITH students. Rules should be specific and easy for students to follow. For example, “Keep Your Hands and Feet to Yourself”. This rule is specific for students and should be easy for them to follow. 3-5 rules is a good amount. You DON’T want more than 5. Students should know them and be able to read them. At the beginning of the year, I like to think through what I want my rules to be. After I have a general idea alone, I guide students to “help” me develop our class rules. It is important for students to feel like they helped create these rules because it is their classroom too. See 5 example rules below.
I love to use literature to help teach important lessons so of course I use books to help us with our rules too. We may read books like, “What if Everybody Did That?” or “Volcano Mouth” to help us create our rules for our classroom. Typically my idea of rules stays the same from year to year, but with student input, they may shift a little. The discussion piece is the most essential part of creating the rules. Asking students what is important to them and what they want their classroom to be really helps them think about what rules we need in order to create that environment. As we sit and dialogue, I chart their ideas and we highlight similar ones. After we have talked and charted multiple times, I then take our list and come up with our list of 5 rules. It’s presented to the students to get their input and if we all agree, we all sign to uphold them and they don’t change all year!
Routines are just as important as rules. Think about your day for a second. What does your morning look like? Maybe you take a shower, scroll through Instagram, grab some coffee and set out for work. This is a routine you follow. Routines are part of our daily lives and they help us plan out our day, know what to expect, and make us feel safe. Now let’s say your alarm doesn’t go off one morning and you wake up late. Well, your morning routine goes out the window and it’s a race to get things done so you can make it to school on time. How does that feel? Probably stressful and overwhelming and it definitely has a lasting impact on your day.
Children are the same way. They THRIVE on routines. It helps them feel safe and know exactly what to expect every day. We should always keep this in mind because oftentimes, our school routine may be the only routine in their lives. If it gets disrupted, it could really be detrimental to their mental health. It’s important to stay consistent with the routines because coupled with those classroom rules, it’s what will really help build that smooth sailing classroom. And how do we teach those routines to students? One word… procedures.
Procedures are the last piece of the puzzle to help your classroom run itself! This is going to be the BEST classroom management tool in your toolbox. They are how students do everything in your classroom without YOU. That’s right, I am going to teach you a proven way to help students master procedures so that your students know EXACTLY what to do and your classroom will *ALMOST* run itself. The best part is, it’s SUPER easy and it’s a total game changer.
So how do we make it happen? By EXPLICITLY modeling procedures for students, they will understand and know their expectations. The biggest secret to having students master their expectations is by teaching them what EVERY procedure looks like and sounds like. By teaching them EXACTLY what is expected of them and SHOWING them what that looks and sounds like. Think about an area or procedure in your classroom that you know could be better. Maybe it’s sharpening pencils, transitioning to centers, or your whole group time? Whatever it is, using this “looks like, sounds like” framework is a quick, easy, and effective way to immediately change to desired behaviors. By explicitly modeling clear and concise expectations, students will know exactly what they need to do and YOU get to reap the benefits!
Put It In Action
Let’s talk about some important routines to teach to students starting from day one. Students need to learn how to do everything in your classroom. Whether they’ve been in school a few years or it’s their first, your classroom is different from others. So what are some important procedures that must be taught to students?
- How to enter and leave the classroom each day
- Going to the bathroom
- Getting new supplies
- How we learn together
- How to get their attention
- How students get their needs met
ALWAYS have high expectations and that goes for anything and everything. For example, if you expect that students use a hand signal to go to the bathroom then make sure they do that every time. If Johnny needs to go to the bathroom and uses the signal, but then Katie needs to go and doesn’t and just leaves what would you do? If you don’t hold every student to the same standard, then they won’t follow the expectations.
These are just SOME of the routines and procedures I’ve already thought through for you. With the Back to School Procedures Checklists and the Editable Procedures Anchor Charts and Slideshow, you will have EVERYTHING prepped for you to help your classroom almost run itself!
Have posters completed for you or add your own images and words with the editable version.
Want to learn more in depth details about how to set up your classroom for success starting from day one? You’ll love the Back to School Teaching Timeline Freebie. You can grab yours below! These are just a few of the things I cover in my Back to School Teacher Guide. I go over in extensive detail how I successfully set up the classroom and how I teach all my procedures. I also cover organization, communication, and so much more!
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