Five Important Classroom Procedures

Key Procedures for Teachers and Students

Every teacher must develop classroom procedures in order to make their life easier and create a more effective learning environment for students. Teachers who have not created and reinforced procedures for each of the following situations will cause themselves undue stress while robbing their students of important classroom time.

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Begin Class on Time

Desk in empty classroom
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Class begins even before the bell rings. Research shows that when teachers greet students at the door, the class period gets off to a good start. Greeting students at the door with positive verbal or non-verbal interactions can improve student engagement and motivation. A teacher who greets students at the door can remind them of the time when learning will begin.

Starting class late means a loss of instructional time. For example, a loss of five minutes at the beginning of each period is a loss of 250 minutes, or five class periods, every 50 days. While those five minutes do not seem to matter that much on a given day, when they are added up they account for a lot of lost learning time. 

Teachers should begin with a task students can do independently as part of a daily routine. A journal prompt, a problem to solve, a location to identify, an independent book to read, or a graphic to analyze are all examples of independent tasks students can do.

These routines are important for classroom management at the start of class because of the number of teacher responsibilities (attendance, homework collection, announcements) that are not directly tied to instruction. When students are engaged in a task, they are less likely to misbehave.

Many teacher evaluation rubrics address the need for beginning classroom routines, as in the criteria for managing classroom procedures in the Danielson Teacher Evaluation Rubric:

"Instructional time is maximized due to efficient and seamless classroom routines and procedures. Students take initiative in the management of instructional groups and transitions, and/or the handling of materials and supplies. Routines are well understood and may be initiated by students."

Beginning class on time is a learned behavior for both teachers and students. Students change based on the expectations of their teachers. Starting class on time with a task every day can maximize the use of available instructional time.

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Create a System for Restroom Use

Students will need to use the restroom during class, so the teacher needs to set in place a system that is the least disruptive possible while ensuring that it is not easily abused. Specific strategies or rules that can be implemented include:

  • Set a rule that restroom use is not allowed 10 minutes before or after a bell (beginning or end of class).
  • Use a small whiteboard with an erasable pen and eraser on the end of it by the door. When a student needs to use the restroom he/she must print his/her name on the whiteboard before leaving the classroom and erase his/her name when returning to class.
  • One laminated pass by the door can be used to limit the number of people who want to leave to use a restroom.

Teachers can also enforce a time limit if they feel students are abusing the restroom policy. Learn more about implementing restroom use policies.

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Procedures for Questions

Students should feel that they have the ability to ask for help during class. It would be a bad math teacher, for example, who did not help students struggling with multiplying fractions. However, a clear system needs to be set up at the beginning of the year of how students should ask for help. Teachers will want to avoid having students call out unrelated questions during a lesson or task or when they are helping other students.
Some policies teachers might want to consider:

  • require students to raise their hands,
  • ask students to jot questions as during the lesson;
  • provide them designated time to ask questions during class,
  • create a "parking lot" or area where students can post questions;
  • have office hours before and/or after school when students know that they can come for help.

Some teachers have also used social media or a classroom website as a forum for students to ask questions. These platforms can help students share information as well.

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Collecting Work

Collecting student work should be a streamlined process. However, if teachers do not have a practical plan on how they want students to turn in work, the process can quickly become an inefficient mess with papers handed in at odd times.

This can lead to classroom disruptions or grading issues. If students have paper copies, there is the possibility of lost papers. Therefore, a teacher needs to decide when and how students will turn in their work. Ideas that teachers might want to consider include:

  • Collecting work, particularly homework, at the door as students enter the class
  • Having a specific colored folder in a designated location where students are responsible for turning in their homework before class begins.

In the digital classroom, students should know where to post work. Educational software platforms can include Google Classroom, Schoology, Edmodo, or Blackboard. Student work is timestamped when it is submitted.

No matter what system is chosen, a teacher must consistently enforce that system to get the greatest benefit.

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Ending the Class Efficiently

The same attention given to the way a teacher starts a class should be given to how a teacher ends a class. The lesson should maximize the use of instructional time. Many teacher evaluation rubrics address the need for designing coherent instruction from the beginning to the end of class such as the criteria explained in Danielson Teacher Evaluation Rubric:

"The sequence of learning activities follows a coherent sequence, is aligned to instructional goals, and is designed to engage students in high-level cognitive activity."

The concluding activity or routine is all important for classroom management at the end of a class. All lessons should provide time for students to prepare for a future lesson or to distribute materials. Teachers may use different strategies to assess what students learned during class such as:

  • a 3-2-1 form on which students write or talk about three things they learned, two things they still want to learn, and one question they still have;
  • a reflection card on which students reflect on the lesson and write down what they have learned or how this lesson can connect to real life;
  • a short comprehension quiz at the end of class.

At the end of each lesson, the room should also be reset to its original formation, especially if the classroom is shared with another teacher. For example, if the lesson required students to move around and desks rearranged for group work, the room should be set up for the next period.

Materials used in the lesson need to be returned for future use. Books should be returned to a specific location to ensure that they accounted for future use.