So often teachers become derailed on a lesson due to classroom management issues. No matter how strong your classroom management game might be, there will always be off days…we are dealing with young humans, for goodness sake.
However, having established classroom procedures will help keep these disruptions to a minimum…and will make it easier to get everyone back on track.
By establishing classroom procedures, the ability to thwart issues and problems in the classroom become both commonplace and anticipatory. Your students will thrive with the consistency and routine in knowing exactly what the expectations are for them every day.
The curriculum of the day will still be a surprise, but the classroom procedures will be understood and, once grasped fully, will help the lessons flow and improve the success of creativity.
What might this look like in your own classroom? There are a few different ways you can establish classroom procedures for your students.
Ideas for Creating Classroom Procedures
When I first began teaching, I was under the impression that I needed to develop classroom procedures before school started and then hammer them home on the first day of school.
Talk about a way to turn some kids off right away.
Think about it. It’s the first day of school. Kids are probably nervous for a number of reasons. They might be tired due to waking up early for the first time in weeks. They’re trying to figure out the social dynamics of their new class and they’re trying to figure you out, too.
The last thing they want is to have to sit there and listen to you rattle off a big list of what they should and shouldn’t do.
So what are your options then? We know those classroom procedures need to be implemented as soon as possible to keep classroom habits appropriate from the get-go.
1. Have your students develop the procedures with you
This is a great way to give some student choice from the very first day. It also helps students to feel like they have a say in the bureaucracy of the classroom.
There are a few different ways you can do this. I have used it as a small group activity and a whole class one as well. It really depends on the grade level you’re working with.
When I taught high school, I found the most successful way of doing this was to give each student their own graphic organizer but have a number of stations set up around the room with different scenarios. For instance, one station had the school late policy set up and the students needed to determine how to set up expectations and consequences for that within the classroom.
While you’re certainly going to have one or two knuckleheads that will give you answers like, “Make class optional” and “Everyone gets an A!”, for the most part, the kids are actually pretty tough with the rules that they come up with.
I would take home their ideas and then create the class expectations from that. Of course, if there is something they missed or were collectively off the mark with, you can “adjust” as you see fit. They will be none the wiser.
This sets up a little bit of anticipation for day 2 of school, too. You already hooked them without even trying.
2. Show it in Action
Another angle I’ve taken, especially when dealing with procedures like putting away computers that are non-negotiable, is to show that particular procedure in action and then leave something behind as a reminder.
For instance, instead of innovating students with the procedures and processes all at once, show them when it is relevant.
In the case above, I would show the students at once how to sign out an iPad, how to return it when completed and then would leave a sign on top of the cart as a reminder on how to do that.
The key with a procedure like this is to always find a way to categorize the students to the devices. So if Johnny doesn’t put his laptop away properly, you can speak to Johnny individually and reiterate the procedures instead of getting frustrated and blanket explaining to the entire class..again…
The key is repetition in explanation when it is relevant to the student. You show them the procedure when it is about to happen, and then the next few times you say something like, “Don’t forget how we use our class library. The sign to remind you is on the wall and you can come to ask me any questions you still have”.
Those first few times, also keep an eye to make sure there aren’t any glaring issues (but also, give grace as they’re figuring it out and don’t micromanage the process!). Then once you’re confident everyone understands, you can begin to trust the process and not spend your own time and energy on making sure it’s being executed appropriately.
Another tip is to revisit the procedure every once in a while to see if anyone has gotten a little lazy with the intended protocol. A few quick reminders will let the students know that you’re still paying attention to make sure they’re doing things properly.
Classroom Procedures to Cover
At the end of the day, it’s important to make sure that you cover all the bases of what may happen over the course of a day. Obviously procedures such as fire drills or lockdowns are beyond your control to plan and should be handled in an age-appropriate manner.
Here’s a list of procedures you will want to consider:
- Coming to class
- Lining up
- Classroom Supplies
- Unfinished Work
- Quick Finishers
- Bathroom, water fountain, nurse, etc.
- Sharpening Pencils
- Class Jobs
- Flexible Seating
- Eating in Class
- Interactions with Classmates, Adults Entering, etc.
- Returning from an Absence
- Leaving the Classroom
You may also have other items that need to be addressed depending on the age of your students or the dynamic of your classroom. Make sure you consider all areas when deciding what needs an official procedure.
Remember, having established classroom procedures will be the difference between calm and chaos in any grade level.