Monday, July 20, 2015

Routines and Procedures Tips

I know it is only July and I don't start teaching until after the Labor Day weekend but already my mind is going over how can I improve the way my class will run in the upcoming school year.  After teaching almost 20 years, I am always changing and looking for new ways to improve how my classroom is managed.  One of the first books I bought on classroom management was "The First Days of School" by Harry Wong.  What stuck with me after reading that book was the importance of having routines and procedures for everything that happens in my classroom.  I developed my routines right away but in the first few years I really didn't spend enough time practising those routines. Now I know better.  I will spend the first few weeks teaching and practising the routines and procedures to my students and worry about getting the curriculum covered later.  I will share some of the tips I have learned about introducing routines and procedures and would love to hear about what has worked for you.

1. Visuals, Visuals, Visuals!

One thing I have learned is that it is not good enough to just have the words on your charts but visuals can help students understand what is being asked of them in an easier way.  I also have a visual schedule and I find students hardly ever ask me the question, "What do we have to do next?".
Morning Routine
  This was my Morning Routine chart from this past year.  Students would enter the class and follow the pictures.
Number 1  - Put your bookbag and lunchbag in your locker.
Number 2.  Bring in your agenda and homework and put it on your desk and if you are ordering recess or lunch put your order in the blue cafeteria bag.
 Number 3.  Start bellwork or morning work.
Number 4.  When finished your bellwork sit on your sit-spot at the front of the class and read until your teacher is ready to start (my class has a Hollywood theme so I have the girls sit on popcorn clip art and the boys on movie clappers clip art which I have taped to the floor.
Number 5.  Calendar time at the SMARTboard.

End of Day Routine
This was my End of the Day Routine.  See if you can figure out the steps to how we go home at the end of the day in my classroom.   You can make your own morning and end of day routine anchor charts by using this product.

Another set of visuals that I have posted in my class are our  class rules.   In the first few weeks we review these daily.  I often get my student of the day to read them to the class each morning during our morning meeting.  After our Christmas and Easter break I will review them again for about a week after the holiday.  It is amazing to me how much they can forget in one week away from school!
Class Rules Visual Reminders

2.   Model, Model, Model!

When I am introducing any new routine in my class I always explain to students the rationale behind the routine or procedure.  I then model to the students how the procedure looks.  For example:  when teaching the students how to line up I always get a few students to line up for the class.  One behind the other, hands to their sides, quiet voices, etc.  Next, I will always get a few students to come up and line up and they will show the other students what you shouldn't be doing such as standing side by side, swinging their arms and shouting.  My students love being the ones picked to show how not to behave!

3.  Be Consistent!

If there is one thing that I have learned about teaching routines and procedures is to be consistent.  Some days I feel like they are never going to figure out the routines but if you spend the time during those first few weeks going over and over what you expect, I promise you it will lead to a well-managed classroom.  My Morning and End of Day Routine charts were taken down at Christmas time because we were decorating the class and I forgot to put them back up right away and my students followed the routines for the rest of the year no problem because we had consistently reviewed that chart on a daily basis in the first term.

4.  Engage, Engage, Engage!  

Try to look for ways to make learning routines and procedures interesting for students.  When I taught grade 5, I would always pass out a booklet outlining the class routines and procedures on the first day of school.  I would tell the students that it would be their only homework for the first two weeks was to read over their booklet.  Each day we would discuss a procedure in the booklet and model it.  I also told students that at the end of the two weeks on the Friday afternoon we would be playing a game of Routines and Procedures Jeopardy.  The students loved playing Jeopardy!  It did take me some time to make the first game the first year but then I had it to use for the next 13 years.  An answer under Procedures for 200 points, might be "The number of pencils that need to be sharpened for morning work" and then the student would say "What is 2?".  They would then get 200 points for their team.  

This year for my grade 2 students I wanted something to help students learn the rules so I decided to make a coloring booklet and some crowns for them to wear.  I am going to get them to wear their crowns everyday for the first week of school so that they can point to the visual on the crown and explain what it means for how to complete independent and group work in the classroom.  If you think it might help you in your class you can get it here.

School Rules
To my friends who are going back to school in the next few weeks, I wish you a great school year!


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