Fortunately, this can be avoided by making sure your students know exactly what to do at any point during the day, in any situation that might come up. That means that you need to have a procedure in place for EVERYTHING. Here are some ideas about how to accomplish this oh-so-important, and somewhat daunting, task:
Plan Ahead: Make a List
- Consider your classroom – where things are located (pencil sharpener, extra paper, etc.)? How are materials (art, science, centers, etc.) to be handled?
- Consider your daily schedule – what do your students do every day (turn in homework, eat lunch, etc.)? What problems are likely to pop up (lost homework, not cleaning up from lunch, etc.)?
- Consider your weekly schedule – what sorts of things do you do a few times a week or just once a week (library, spelling tests, etc.)?
- Finally, consider those things that happen every so often (assemblies, guest speakers, fire drills, etc.).
Leave Time for Teaching
Practice Makes Perfect – and You Should Settle for Nothing Less
The go-to expert on this very thing is Harry Wong, and if you haven’t read his book, The First Days of School, you really ought to.
Reward Positive Behaviors
When they get it right, be sure to let them know. It could be as simple as a smile, a “thumbs up,” or a few marbles dropped into the marble jar. Personally, I am a big fan of random reward, as it is highly effective and tends to keep everyone on their toes. Often it isn’t so much about the reward itself so much as letting your students know they got it right.
Teaching and reinforcing classroom procedures is not generally the most exciting way to spend your time – and it may seem like you are wasting valuable class time that could be spent digging into those Common Core Standards that are looming ahead. But it is totally worth it. Spend a little time now, and save a lot of time later. More importantly, by establishing your procedures early and firmly, you will create a safe, positive, and productive learning environment for yourself and your students.
Looking for a fun way to reinforce those procedures? Try this set of Classroom Procedure Task Cards. Each of the 39 cards features a different classroom procedure.
Got more to add? A favorite strategy or tip? Please comment!