Establishing Classroom Routines and Procedures

Lay the foundation early!

Establishing classroom routines and procedures super early on in the school year is the best way to make sure your students know exactly what is expected of them and will make your life a WHOLE LOT EASIER! Laying the foundation early on has always helped my students have a clear understanding of how things should run and ensured that things run smoothly and time isn’t wasted. From the way students enter the classroom, how they transition, and how they ask for permission for things will all make a huge difference! 
Let’s talk opening routines first. Now, I always start off “asking for student input” so they take ownership of the established routines. And I say this in quotes because yes, I do ask for students to share how they think they should enter the classroom, what they think they should do first, how they should be working, etc., BUT for the most part, they come up with the routines that I already know I’m using anyway. There have been times that I’ve had to elicit the responses in a clever way if they don’t wind up sharing some on their own, like asking “when do you think the DO NOW should be completed?” or “Do you think you should enter the classroom loudly or quietly?”. You get the idea. These are the opening routine posters that I use once we’ve discussed them and “chosen” them as a class. 

Lay the foundation early!
My number one time saver for the classroom routines are my classroom hand signals! These are free in my store so go check them out. I promise you will be so happy you did. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I’m teaching, and totally into a lesson, and I ask a question, and a student raises their hand – and of course I’m thinking they are going to be responding with the best ever answer – and they respond with, “can I go to the bathroom?”. This always drove me nuts! These hand signals take care of these unnecessary interruptions. If a student needs to use the restroom, go to the nurse, needs a pencil or tool, there is a signal for that! I just simply nod my head or shake my head to let my students know if it is an appropriate time, and I can proceed with my super awesome lesson without having to miss a beat. THE.BEST.THING.EVER!
I also use classroom jobs to help keep my classes running smoothly. My celebrity classroom jobs have always been such a hit with my middle schoolers. They like that they have these technical Hollywood type job titles. I have a basic sign up sheet for the jobs and will rotate them weekly. These jobs are also editable so if you want to add in different job titles and descriptions you can do so to meet the needs of your classroom! The best part is that I have students who can keep each other accountable for what happens in the classroom and keep things on track. It is awesome for classroom management!

The last two routines that I use in my classroom kind of work hand in hand. The first are my Assess Yourself Posters. It is super important for students to take ownership of their learning and to really be able to reflect on how much they know or don’t know about a topic. I have each of the levels numbered so that at anytime throughout a lesson I can ask students to assess themselves by holding up their fingers to show how they are feeling about a lesson. One of my favorite activities to do when students are ready to begin working on practice examples is to have students who feel they are at level 4 or are “experts” pair up with other students to help discuss the problems together. 

However, there have been so many times that I pair students up, either using this strategy or just pairing up in general, and they don’t know what to say or how to start up a discussion. So I created math conversation starters that they keep on their desks for reference. Anytime they feel stuck with how to start up a conversation with their partner they choose one of the options to get them going. It works like a charm and my students are always conversing in meaningful ways that help them learn and grow. 

As you implement the routine, remind students of the proper procedure and your expectations, making your reminders less detailed until they are able to complete the tasks completely on their own. If the class struggles to remember the routines or have trouble completing them after a break from school, review your expectations and have students practice the proper way to complete the routines again.