Classroom Procedures and Routines

General Routines to Establish on the First Day of School

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The key to a well-managed and organized classroom is routine. Routines help students understand what is expected of them and predict what will happen next throughout the day so that they can focus on learning instead of adapting. Once effective procedures and routines are established, behavioral problems and other interruptions are reduced and learning prospers.

Keep in mind that it may take students, especially younger students, several weeks to truly fall into a routine. Taking the time to teach and practice these procedures often at the beginning of the year is well worth the effort because it will give structure and efficiency to your class that ultimately allows for more instructional time.

Here is a list of the most basic routines to teach your class in the first few days of school, organized by whether they are appropriate for elementary classrooms or applicable to all grades. You should modify these to make them specific to your school's policies.

For Elementary Grades

Beginning the Day

When entering the classroom, students should first put away coats and all other outer clothing that isn't needed during school as well as backpacks, snacks, and lunches (if students brought these from home). Then, they can place homework from the previous day in the designated area and get started on morning work or await morning meeting.

You may have interactive charts—flexible seating charts, attendance counts, lunch tags, etc.—that students should update at this time as well.

Note: Students in secondary grades are usually just allowed to complete all morning tasks independently as they come in.

Ending the Day

Students should put all their materials away, clean off their desk or table, and put work to take home in their homework folder at the end of the day (usually beginning this process about fifteen minutes before the final bell rings). Only after the class is organized should they gather their belongings, stack their chairs, and sit quietly on the carpet until they are dismissed.

Lining Up

Lining up efficiently takes a lot of practice in lower grades. There are various systems you may choose for this but a common one requires students to wait until their row or table is called to put their supplies away and line up, grabbing any materials needed for whatever follows. Stress the importance of lining up silently so that the rest of the class can hear when they have been called.

For All Grades

Entering and Leaving the Room

Students should enter and exit the classroom quietly at all times. Whether coming in late, leaving early, or just going to the bathroom in the hallway, students must not disturb their classmates or other rooms. Reinforce this behavior at periods of transition such as lunch, recess, and assemblies.

Using the Restroom

Check your school's policies on students leaving the classroom unattended to use the restroom. In general, students should refrain from exiting in the middle of a lesson and need to make sure that a teacher or teaching aid knows where they are going. Many teachers do not allow more than one student at a time to leave the class to use the restroom.

Some teachers have bathroom passes that students must take when they leave or charts to track who is gone when. These practices increase safety by enabling a teacher to know the whereabouts of every student at all times.

Fire Drills

When the fire alarm sounds, students must stop what they are doing, calmly place everything right where they are, and quietly walk to the door. Students in elementary grades should line up at the door but teachers may allow older students to exit the room and meet at a designated area outside of the school. Teachers are responsible for collecting fire drill supplies and tracking attendance, reporting immediately to administration if someone is missing. Once outside, everyone is expected to stand quietly and wait for the announcement to come back into the building.

Additional Procedures

You can integrate more sophisticated routines into your classroom gradually. Teach your students the following procedures a few at a time for best results.

  • Snack time
  • Going to the office (when getting picked up or visiting the nurse)
  • How to behave when there are classroom visitors
  • What to do during assemblies
  • Where, when, and how to submit homework
  • Returning classroom supplies to their places
  • Handling classroom equipment (i.e. scissors)
  • Getting ready for lunch, recess, or specials
  • Transitioning to the next class
  • How to safely use a computer
  • Participating in learning centers
  • What to do during announcements