Do you want to create a classroom where students are super productive, it fosters positive relationships and things run smoothly throughout the day? Well then you need to crush those classroom procedures during the first week!
Since there’s already SO much to think about and do that first week of school, I wanted to help YOU get through this time stress free. Not only will you be less overwhelmed, but your students will thrive starting day one knowing their expectations in a structured, routined, and fun environment. All you need are these three easy steps I’m going to share with you! Don’t forget to save this for your first week of school so you can crush it!!
Step One: Create Structure and Routine
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. Getting those two things down matters so much and YOU can bring this magic into your classroom.
Just as we educators work well with a routine and structure, students are the same way. When things are predictable it helps with managing stress and allows students to anticipate what is happening next so they can be prepared. This starts from day one so that they can feel safe, supported, and confident in what they are doing. Create structure and routine in your classroom and thank yourself later.
Step Two: Be Intentional
Procedures will only work if you are intentional with the reason behind them all. They should focus on creating a great environment for students that provides space for independence, gives support as needed, keeps them safe, and they set a high expectation for behavior. One way I love to ensure my students respect and follow all of our procedures is by focusing on relationships. This is an all day thing, but especially starts in the morning.
Begin your day with intentional greetings. When students know their teacher is excited to see them first thing in the morning it sets the tone for the rest of the day. I love to get creative and give students choices on how they would like to be greeted. They can choose a high five, fist bump, or a hug. You can make special handshakes or give students the job to be a greeter! Not only do you want to foster your teacher student relationships, but also peer relationships. This is one great way to start your day intentionally so that things flow for the rest of the day. You can check out all the morning greeting options HERE!
Another part of starting your day intentionally is by starting on time, easing into your workload, and continuing to foster positive relationships. Starting on time gives students the predictability, going back to the structure and routine, and it helps you maximize your instructional time. Easing into your workload is a great way to allow students to calm down from a possibly already hectic morning getting to school in the first place. You can be as creative as you want to here by allowing students to work from morning tubs, completing independent spiral review work, or my personal favorite- have a morning meeting! During a morning meeting, you as a class can set intentions for the day so that everyone is working with that collective purpose in mind.
Step Three: Teach Your Procedures
Now that you’ve got your class in the groove, they all love you and each other because you’ve spent time connecting, your students will care about all the procedures you plan to teach them.
Procedures are one of the most essential pieces to help your classroom run smoothly. The goal is to create and apply systems for things in your classroom that will keep students safe, help them understand exactly what is expected of them, and increase efficiency. These systems also ensure equity among your class because the procedures allow you to set the same expectations for every student.
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!
Below are 11 of my most important procedures to teach the first week AND more resources so you can crush it all year long.
- Arriving and Unpacking
- Get clear on what you want this time of day to look like so that you can model for students exactly what it should sound and look like. Where should everything go and what should we all be doing? Lay it all out.
- Using School Supplies
- When I relinquished control over school supplies, like glue, scissors and pencils, my life became 20x better. Label all the things and teach them procedures on how to access and treat the supplies and you’re good to go! Check out THESE editable ones for you to use to foster little independent learners!!
- Lining Up
- This is another procedure you want to get clear on for students and allow them SO much practice. Show them EXACTLY what you want them to look like, maybe take a picture of their perfect line, and tape it to the door so they always know what they should be doing. You line up a lot throughout the day so get this one down ASAP.
- How We Meet Our Needs
- Kids need a lot and it can seem constant when twenty or more of them are asking for water, a tissue, help, or the bathroom. If they’re constantly interrupting your teaching for those needs, you are losing a lot of instruction time. I love using THESE hand signals to get everyone’s needs met while still staying on track.
- Using the Bathroom
- Out of all the needs, the bathroom is a pretty crucial one. It can take a while for some and depending on if you have a restroom inside your classroom or not, you may need a buddy system. They will always need to use it at some point and we always have to honor that request so a solid system in place is important.
- Working Together
- Transitions happen SO frequently throughout your day so getting these down will be one of the BEST things you can do. There are so many ways to make these fun so that students get excited to move on to the next task. Try movement words, music, or fun actions like tip toeing, or hopping like bunnies! Grab the movement word freebie below!
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- Getting Student’s Attention (attention grabbers)
- Work Completion
- Procedures for having your students turn in work can be the difference between having neat piles for you to check or a complete hornet’s nest of a mess. Collecting student work should be systematic in a way that makes your job easier. Create a practical plan and model, model, model.
- Outside of the Classroom
- Just as procedures need to be modeled, practiced, and upheld in the classroom, we must think about when our students are outside of the classroom. This includes hallways, specials, cafeterias, etc., and these areas should be explicitly planned for as well.
- Dismissal Time
- Just like the beginning of the day, this should be a clear picture of what you want this time to look like. Students should have the room cleaned and their belongings packed up several minutes before they’re actually scheduled to leave. Make sure everyone knows how they get home and the designated areas they should be in. I also like to insert in a closure period of our day during those minutes before they are actually dismissed. You can do things like an afternoon meeting, giving feedback to each other and positive notes to leave on, and a sweet goodbye- maybe another high five or hug like they started the day with. No matter their behavior, we should always strive to have every student feel loved at the end of the day.
These are just SOME of the routines and procedures I’ve already thought through for you. You can learn more in-depth tips and tricks for teaching procedures with the Ultimate Guide HERE! 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!
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