Starting the year on the right foot- classroom routines

The subject of classroom management is a weighty one.  There is no way to sum up the keys to successfully manage a classroom, and I’m sure that classroom management looks different in different classrooms.  Having said that, here I will touch on just one aspect of classroom management- classroom routines.

Classroom management, sometimes thought of as classroom discipline (but that’s another post for another day), is in the small stuff; it’s in the routines and habits that you establish with your students from day one.  It’s in remembering what those habits are, writing them down, posting them for your students to see, and practicing, practicing, practicing!

Routines establish order, prevent chaos, avoid miscommunication and misunderstandings and therefor circumvent irritability in both the teachers and the students when little tasks end up taking up far more time then they should!

Even at the secondary level, students respond well to routines.  I believe it is just part of our human nature to find comfort in the known.  Establish a protocol for when problems arise- students don’t have their materials, it’s time to put materials away, a student is about to do a presentation, it’s time to transition to a new activity, etc.

Remember, very few people get it right the first time… and we can’t expect all of our students to remember the routines we impose on them the first few tries… it takes practice to turn things into habit!  Many times classroom procedures seem so obvious to us because we’ve been practicing them in our classes for YEARS!  I give my students scenarios, and allow them to practice the routines almost daily the first two weeks of class.

For example, I have a signal for silence in my classroom.  I explain to my students the signal, what it means and why it’s important for all of us.  Then I tell my students to talk.  They usually stare at me for a second in disbelief!  So then I say, ‘talk, talk, talk!  Talk about the weather, what you did last weekend, whatever!”  They usually get the idea, and then once the time seems right, I give them the signal (in Spanish) “three, two, one, attention.”  By the time I reach the last word, I expect silence.   It works like a charm!  But then, if we don’t practice it, they won’t remember after several days go by.  I practice this particular routine/expectation multiple times each day for the first two weeks.

(Allowing them to talk for a minute is also a great brain break after I’ve asked them to speak and comprehend nothing but Spanish for the last 15-20 minutes!)

What are some routines that you establish in your classrooms that are the most successful in classroom management?  Do you find that allowing them to practice them over and over again at the beginning is helpful?

I look forward to your feedback!

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