What is one thing that make or break a classroom? The answer, procedures! The first two weeks, perhaps even longer, need to be spent teaching your students classroom procedures. It is vital that students know what is expected of them in your classroom. So, what is important to you? How would you like to have pencils sharpened, what is your bathroom policy, where do kids put finished work? These are things that you need to think about beforehand and be ready to share with them your expectations. Depending upon the grade you teach, this will look differently. In middle school/high school it may be verbally taught, in primary it may mean colorful posters or labels. Here are a few things to consider to help your school year run smoothly and get the most “teach to” time you can get!
When establishing classroom procedures, be sure to:
Be sure students understand why they are asked to do the procedure. When kids have buy-in to a reason you are asking them to do something, they are much more likely to do it. If one of your procedures is asking permission to use the restroom, explain to them that it is for their safety that you know where they are throughout the day in case of an emergency.
Teach by modeling. It is easy for students to hear a request, but not fully understand what you are asking. Model for them what you want something to look like. Give an example and exactly what you want. If it a finished paper, show them how you want their chair pushed in, how to quietly walk to the “finished box” and place the paper in and to walk quietly back to their seat. I always have another student model for the class after I have modeled.
Practice, practice, practice. As a class, I call on small groups of kids to do a task just the way I modeled. I point out what they are doing correct and what needs to be worked on. We continue practicing everyday until it is done the way I expect it without me having to redirect.
Take a few at a time. This is very important. Just like adults, kids can only take in so much new information at a time before it becomes ineffective. For example, hold off on teaching your center procedures until you are ready to start centers. Hold off on assembly procedures until you have an upcoming assembly.
Reteach if necessary.