10 Routines You Need In the Classroom

Routines and procedures are crucial to a well run classroom. Routines fall under the umbrella of classroom management and they will help your classroom out tremendously! When you have good routines, students know what to expect and how to get from one place to another and how to do it and meet your expectations.  Today we are going to explore some routines that you may not even know you need so that you can begin thinking on what they should look like in your classroom.

Before we start, I have a disclaimer.  I am going to discuss multiple strategies here.  There are lots of strategies and more than one can work.  The key is to find the strategies that work for you and your students.  Each group of kids is unique. Some need more direction that others...and that is okay.  The key is to set the routines.  Teach them at the beginning of the year, but also continue to teach them ALL YEAR!  Kids will sometimes slack off when they stop hearing reminders of what to do. They rely on you to set those parameters...and to stick to them.  It is okay to switch things up if the aren't working.  I like to tell my students, "We are switching this because I think it would work better a different way."  Saying something like this lets students know the routine is changing because you choose to change it, not because things have slacked off or you don't know what is going on.  It is okay to tell students you forgot or messed up.  They need to see us make mistakes, but it is also important for them to know that you are aware of the choices in the room and that you are setting those parameters.  If you take nothing from this...take away those nuggets!  Okay, so lets talk about 5 routines and then click through to Beth's post to read on to the last 5.

morning procedures for a successful day of teaching in the classroom


From the moment students step into your room they are yours.  Setting up your day with procedures in place will make for a successful rest of the day.  A couple of things to think about as you decide on your morning routine are:  How can I transition my kids from home to school easily?  and What will best put my students in a mindset to learn?

I really wish someone would have stated this to me in this way when I first started teaching.  I knew that it was important for students to have something to do when they came in, but I didn't always understand they "why" behind it.  Think back to when you were in school, was there ever a time that you had an argument with a parent before you came?  What was your mindset at that point?  I had a great childhood and even I can remember a time or two mom griped at me as I was getting ready or things just didn't go so well in the morning.  Our students have these same experiences.

Giving students a chance to transition from home to school allows them time to move their thinking over to school and focus less on home rather than just throwing them into academics right away.

Beyond the transition, procedures for the morning will give you a chance to get yourself together and handle any situation that may arise in the morning and handle any of the many expectations placed on you in the morning.

SO, What does a morning routine look like?

My procedures usually include the following:

1. I am at the door to greet students - They choose a hug or a handshake from me and say good morning and then come in.
2.  Put up your backpack and jacket in a cubby and get out any supplies you need for the day.
3. If you have folders or binders to check this is a great time to have them put those in their place as well.
4. Get a sharpened pencil/sharpen a pencil.
5. Work on bell ringer, read a book, other desk activity. This depends on the age of the students. For younger kids it may be using a sensory bin at a table group even.  This is usually a 10 -15 minute activity.

I try to limit the morning routine, practice it the first week step by step, and remind students of expectations.  Once this is in place you have freed up 10-15 minutes of your morning to check binders, read parent notes, and take attendance and lunch count.  Plus your students are given a chance to transition their mindset to the safe learning environment you have created and start their day off right.

Procedures for lining students up in the classroom to aid in classroom management


This is something I didn't think of until I was in the classroom on day one.  Thankfully I had seen many teachers model how to line up students so it wasn't that hard of a routine to develop.  It is important to have something in mind though so that you don't end up saying, "Ok kids, line up!" and next thing you know you have a brawl on your hands as boys push and shove and a girl in the line elbows someone to make their way to the all coveted first spot in line.

A lot of teachers use line leaders and cabooses in their lines and it works quite well for them.  This doesn't match my teaching style, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it if you want to have class jobs and use that method.  I prefer to line up my quietest students first or the group that worked hardest...something that is based on a behavior that I want to see more. It is amazing what students will do to be first in line.

If you students are doing great and are all ready, line them up by an attribute.  For instance, shirt color or shoe color. You may also line them up by table groups or some other grouping.

Students who are not sitting quietly usually get called last in my classroom, but be careful with this or you can end up with the whole back of your line full of the talkers.  I usually try to sprinkle my talkers in as they line up and I call their groups to insure success in the hallway on our way to wherever we are going.

Procedures for collecting papers and materials in the classroom


Just as important as lining up is picking up and passing out materials.  You first need to decide how you will do supplies in your classroom. Will you have community supplies or will students keep up with their own? What will you store for students and what are they expected to hold on to? How will you store them?

There are great reasons on both sides of community supplies and keeping materials.  In my experience, with older grades, it is better to have them keep their own supplies.  Whereas with younger students I prefer to do community supplies.  In either scenario it is always good to have a lost crayon bucket or extra glue sticks and scissors on hand for misplaces items.

Make sure students have a clear understanding of where supplies are and what they can and cannot get out without permission.  When you pass out supplies you may want to have a materials person at each table or you my prefer to pick a student to pass out things for you.  Once again, I tend to choose this based on behavior.

For older students I use cooperative learning cards to group them.  Everyone has a job for the week and we switch at the end of the week. I have found these work great in grades 2 and up, but I prefer other methods for K-1.  You can check out the cooperative learning cards I have here.  With the cards students each have specific jobs with instructions for each job.

You might also have students make a list of important jobs for the classroom as a whole class.  Then they can decide what each job should entail.  Rotate all students through your list of jobs weekly.  This is great for buy in from the students and helps them to feel a part of the process.

Monitor dismissal and other end of day procedures and routines in the classroom


Just as you have morning routines, you want to have dismissal routines.  The end of the day can get hectic.  There are always things to hand out, areas to clean, and last minute reminders before sending students to designated spots for dismissal.  One again, routines will be your friend here.

Here are the 5 things to cover in the last 15 minutes of the day. I would do these in this order as well.
1. Clean up your area or table group.
2. Make sure you have all homework or important papers in your folder.  (This is when behavior would be marked in their notebook as well).
3. Get your backpack and place all necessary items in it.
4. Report to the carpet for last minute reminders and directions.
5. Send students to designated spots of dismissal.

It is good to know if there are buses, daycare (which ones) and other modes of dismissal before the first day.  That may sound silly, but every school I have worked at had different options and different ways of handling dismissal.  Knowing where students are is very important especially in the beginning.  The most important thing you do (and yes teaching is important - please don't misunderstand) but you also keep your babies safe and return them safely.

Keep an easily accessible list of how your students go home.  This comes in handy in case a student does end up in the wrong place.  It also helps in the event that you have to be out unexpectedly.  I highly recommend if you have students going to daycare or bus that you have a checklist of those students and check off where you sent them. This helps in case another teacher takes them that you know where they went if you are asked.

Setting students up for a good end of the day will help the beginning of the next day.  You come back in to a clean room, with homework taken home and students where they need to be.  It all flows making for a great year.

Ways to communicate with parents and document communication about students in the classroom


This is a tough one for me and I'm going to get real with you here...not that I haven't been already, because I'm pretty straight forward.  It is important to understand early on to DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.  You may think, oh sure.  But really, I mean it.  I was very laid back about this when I first started teaching and you want to believe all parents are trustworthy.  And truthfully, most are.  The problem is it only takes one parent with one issue to cause a big problem.

You will save yourself a lot of time and struggle by keeping a log of who you called, when, and why.  This doesn't have to be crazy detailed.  I usually just keep a spiral with the information or you can keep it in a Word document on your computer.  Anytime a parent calls or you call a parent you write down who you talked to, what day and time, the reason for the call and a short blurb about the outcome.  If you call and you don't get an answer or there is a disconnected number, document that too.  Write it down and try again the next day and document.  This covers you in the event that a parent says you did not contact them.

Also, use multiple means of communication.  If you don't get a parent via phone, email them.  My preferred mode of communication is email or text with my parents.  This allows me to keep track of what they said and what I said. I know what we agreed upon very quickly and it helps to have that written record.

Another important routine is to CONTACT PARENTS OFTEN.  You don't want to waste parents time, but they do want you to be in contact.  Even if it seems like they are annoyed or if they seem busy.  You trying matters.  You want to start your year off right!  So contact all of your parents at the beginning of the year and meet with them or chat with them on phone.  Find something good to say about their child.  Let them know how much you enjoy their child.  They are entrusting you with their most prized possession...let them know you value it.  It is amazing what parents will do for a teacher who cares.  Even if they seem like it doesn't matter, do it anyway because it is what is best for the child.

When you build a great relationship with your parents in the beginning, you are showing you care.  This way when you have a problem you can also approach it from that place of caring and wanting what is best for their child.  Parents get defensive when we call out of the blue with problems.  When you approach it as a team effort and recognize their child's strengths in the beginning they can see things from your stance much easier because they have learned to trust you.

So to summarize: Document & Keep in Contact!

I hope you have enjoyed reading these 5 routines.  Click through to Beth's blog at Adventures of a Schoolmarm for 5 more routines to learn about.  Thanks for reading, leave me your thoughts below!


Also, come back next week as we talk about navigating your curriculum and knowing how and what to use!


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