While many things have changed in education, one thing remains the same: Good classroom management begins with established procedures. If your students know what to do, they will ask fewer questions on the first day and every day after that. You can’t teach all of your procedures on the first day of school, but there are 5 first-day classroom procedures that you need to teach to ensure your students have a successful first day which will result in an excellent year for you and them!
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Why Just 5 Classroom Procedures?
- Everybody is nervous on the first day of school.
- Everything is new: the teacher, the classroom, sometimes the school, the rules, and their classmates
- They won’t remember more than five procedures. (see #2 above)
It’s a lot to digest on the first day of school.
Remember, when your new students walk into your classroom on the first day of school, they are nervous and shy. Are they going to be nice? Will I like my new class? What do I do if I have to go to the bathroom?
That last question is important.
It’s so important that it is one of the first procedures I teach on the first day of school. I want to ease my new student’s minds right away. I want them to feel a sense of belonging and know how things work in my class.
So, if you want them to remember your procedures and understand their importance, you have to prioritize them and only teach a few each day.
I spend a considerable amount of time teaching procedures for the first two weeks of school.
Each day I introduce 5 procedures and review all of the previously taught ones. Does this take a lot of time? Yes, but it is completely and utterly worth it!
Here’s my list of the top 5 procedures that I teach on the first day of school:
Classroom Procedure #1: The Bathroom
If I am not teacher the whole group:
1. Place the bathroom pass on your desk.
2. Put your name on the bathroom list and go quietly to the bathroom.
3. Do not play in the bathroom.
4. Wash your hands with soap and water, dry them with no more than 2 paper towels. Make sure your towel lands in the basket.
5. Put the pass back and return to your work area.
Very specific, isn’t it? That’s the point.
Kids need precise instructions. They thrive on knowing what is expected. Also, this is an area where classroom disruptions and behavior issues start, so I want them to know exactly what is expected.
If you notice, this procedure applies only when I am NOT teaching whole class instruction. If I am, I ask students only to go if it’s absolutely necessary. I don’t want them missing important instruction.
Classroom Procedure #2: Coming to Attention
When your attention is needed, I will get your attention in several ways. When you hear these, stop what you are doing and listen for directions.
1. I say “Marco” – You say “Polo”
2. I say “Spongebob” – YOu say “Squarepants”
3. I say “Florida State” – you say “Seminoles”
I’ve tried many different methods, but this one seems to be a favorite – especially if you change it up every so often. Just pick a few and use them until they don’t work anymore, then pick a few new ones.
Here’s the thing with getting your student’s attention. DO NOT begin giving directions until every one of your students has stopped and looked at you. If you don’t – this method or any other won’t work. Just wait in the uncomfortable silence until they look up and realize you and the rest of the class are waiting. It only takes a few of these awkward silences to make them go away!
Classroom Procedure #3: Lining Up
Our class will line up in alphabetical order. The line leader will be first, then the door holers. You will line up quietly with your arms folded, face forward, and be ready to leave. We will leave when everyone is ready.
If they don’t follow these directions, I tell them to sit down, and we’ll try that again. After this happens a few times, they get annoyed and do it correctly.
Now, they know I mean what I say, and they line up pretty quickly every time.
Classroom Procedure #4: The 5 Ft. Rule
You are going to LOVE this one – especially if you are patient and truly teach this to your students.
If you need to ask a question or tell me something and I am with another student, an adult, or eating my lunch – you will follow the 5 ft. rule.
1. Stand 5 ft. away from me, but within in my sightline. Wait for me to acknowledge you.
2. When I am able, I will help you with you with whatever you need.
3. Do not interrupt me UNLESS it is an emergency (hair on fire, you are bleeding, or someone is hurt).
I can’t take credit for this ingenious procedure, but it was clearly a GENIUS who did!
You know how your students all need you simultaneously and how they say your name a MILLION times a day, and they never notice that you are talking to another human being? They just NEED you.
Model this explicitly and often on the first day and weeks of the school year. If they interrupt, just ignore them. Not kidding. Try it.
This procedure takes some time for kids to get – but you will LOVE it once they do!
Classroom Procedures #5: Three Before Me
When the teacher is busy, and you have a question about an assignment or directions:
1. You may ask up to three classmates for assistance.
2. If they cannot give you the answer, you may come and ask me.
There are 20+ of them and one of me. I physically and mentally cannot answer every question they have every day.
I am teaching them so many things on a daily basis, but usually, the questions they have are not about content – they are about procedures or instructions.
These types of questions usually arise a few minutes after they have started the assignment or task. They have my permission to ask three other students for clarification or help.
This procedure saves a lot of time, and two things happen:
- They learn to rely on each other more.
- They become better listeners.
These are the five most important procedures in my classroom, and I teach them on the first day of school. Of course, I have about 25 procedures on my list, and I will devote a significant amount of time during the first few weeks of school teaching and reteaching them.
I do this because I have learned that time is well spent. The school year goes much smoother, and I don’t waste valuable instructional time later.
Remember, whatever procedures you have for your classroom, you must teach it, model it, practice it, and review it until they get it.
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Related Post: How to Write Classroom Procedures That Create a Safe and Respectful Place for Students and You!
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