In two previous posts, The Benefits of a Daily Routine and Entrance Procedures we discussed the importance of establishing, teaching and maintaining classroom routines and procedures. A routine or procedure is different than a rule in that it teaches a student the steps to complete a task. (i.e. The line up routine teaches students the steps to successfully line up.) Harry Wong is an advocate for only a few classroom rules (i.e hands and feet to self) but supports the widespread use of many classroom routines/procedures.
The following list are some of the routines that I find important and useful. While I cannot give specific advice on how to structure your classroom procedures without knowing details about your class dynamics, your physical layout and your school rules; I can offer some guiding questions that may help you to determine routines for yourself. I can also give examples of routines that I use and you can modify them to fit your teaching situation.
When can students go?
When do they need to wait?
What will I do for students who need help?
Where do they wash and dry hands?
Where is the trash can?
How do I get custodial help for accidents?
Have I shown respect for all students?
My procedure for K-2: Students could go to the bathroom anytime during the following: morning work, independent work, centers, recess, snack or lunch. They were not allowed to go during direct instruction time (i.e reading group, math group, writing). If they asked, I usually asked them if they could wait. Most frequently, they could wait. Sometimes they could not and I would let them go. However, if this became a pattern, then I began to think it was an escape behavior. I would then ask my (meticulously organized) assistant to help me remember to send them before instructional groups started.
When can students get a drink?
When do they have to wait?
Is permission required?
How do they request permission?
When during the day can you schedule drinks in your routine?
Have I provided enough opportunities for hydration?
My procedure for K-2: Same procedure as bathrooming. Verbal reminders were given to students to get drinks after recess and physical education activities.
Provide an opportunity for students:
~during the first 15 minutes in the morning
~during choice time, independent work, centers
Teacher always has sharpened pencils available:
~at the teacher's table
~at the assistant's table
~on the counter for student use
Do I have a system in place to provide materials in a timely manner?
My procedure for K-2: I have to confess, this is one of my pet peeves. My procedure was created out of a need to maintain my sanity. Pencil sharpening is one the of the most distracting and irritating sounds for me. I hate it! No pencils are allowed to be sharpened during my direct instruction time. It is like nails on the chalkboard for me!
Students could sharpen pencils during the first 15 minutes of class or during center time. After that, if they needed a sharpened pencil they had to use one of mine or my assistant's. We always had pencils at our teaching tables and on a counter for students.
Do I have a cue to tell students when to line up?
Is there enough physical space for all students to line up?
How will students move to line? (in groups, one at a time, all together?)
How will students know their place in line?
Will I have specific jobs? (line leader, door holder, light monitor)
K-2 procedure: We created a line order. The first person in line was, obviously, the line leader. The last person in line was the door holder. Each week the line leader went to the end of the line and the next person in line moved up. This allowed each child to have a turn at both jobs.
Visual tip: My husband introduced me to painter's tape. Painters tape is blue tape (easily found in the painting department of Home Depot and Lowe's) that does not leave a sticky, gooey mess (like masking tape does). I now use painter's tape as a visual cue on the floor to outline a shape for each child to stand on when lining up.
Transitioning to a new activity
What cue do you use to let students know it's time for a new activity? (timer, verbal cue, chimes)
How much time do students have to move to the next activity?
How do they know when to start the next activity?
How will they move (if required) to the next activity?
K-2 procedure: We transitioned to the next reading or math group according to a timer. When the timer beeped, it was time to move.
These are just some examples of classroom procedures that I have found to be beneficial. Teaching a procdure helps students to understand how you want them to complete a task. Procedures help students to be successful in the classroom and they help to maximize time on task by directly teaching expectations.