It's the beginning of the year and you may be feeling overwhelmed, especially as you introduce new classroom routines to your new group. These last nine days, the little voice in my head keeps saying, “You were ready to pull your hair out at the beginning of the year last year too. But they picked up the new routines and this group will too. Relax, woman!” I've got 3 simple tips to help you introduce classroom routines at the beginning of the year. We've been talking a lot about beginning of the year routines over in the Easy Teaching Tools Primary Teachers group over on Facebook.
Take it Slow
If you take any piece of advice from me, I hope it's what I'm about to tell you. Introduce your new classroom routines slowly. From their perspective, they've got a new classroom, new friends, a different teacher, and whole lot of procedural things to learn. If you throw it all at them at once, they may get overwhelmed. Think of it like this. Remember that one PD you attended where you were given so much information that you were practically unable to process it all? When that happens to me, I will either get overwhelmed or I will shut down. Same goes for our little guys. So teach them just a few routines and make sure they master them before you move on. You've got all year to introduce them!
My expectation is that my students will sit on the carpet in number order. But asking them to do this on the first day, or even the first week, is asking a lot. There are other, more important routines that I want them to learn first, like how to come into the classroom without talking! So, for the first week, they come to the carpet and sit in any square they like. Does it make my a little crazy that they're out of order? Sure. But I know that we will get to that when they are ready. So now that we are in our second week, I know my kiddos are ready to start coming to the carpet and sitting in number order. You can see more about this in my Facebook Live video.
Going over your routines take a lot of practice. It's tiring, frustrating, and at times, overwhelming. But trust me, if you put in the time and practice now, it will make for a smooth year. I keep telling myself this as we practice for what seems like the millionth time, the proper way 2nd graders walk from the carpet back to our desks. Transitions from one place to another is a classroom routine we practice a lot at the beginning of the year. My kids often think what I'm actually saying is “Go talk to your friends on your stroll back.”
When the kiddos are chatting with their friends or running back to their seats, I call them back to the carpet and correct their behavior by gently letting them know my expectations…again. And they we try it again. But if they're still struggling, we come back to the carpet and try it again. We will keep doing this until they do it correctly. It can be tiring, but it will be well worth it.
Consistency is the key if you want your students to meet your expectations. Students will rise to the occasion if you expect them to. But if you only expect them to some of the time, it sends a confusing message. When things are predictable, things run smoothly and students feel safe because they know what to expect.
When we turn in student work, I expect students to always put it in the numbered turn in basket. It's a routine that takes practice, but if we are consistent, it will become natural for my students.
Classroom Routines at the Beginning of the Year
I compiled some of the classroom routines that you'll want to practice at the beginning of the year. What am I missing?
- lining up
- putting backpacks, lunches, jackets away
- entering and exiting the classroom
- sitting on the carpet
- asking to use the restroom
- turning in work
- getting a tissue/drink of water
- what to do with broken pencils
- passing out papers
- partner sharing
- small group sharing
- speaking to the class in a voice that everyone can hear
- clipping up or down on a clip chart
- taking work home (where does it go?)
- classroom jobs
- using the classroom library
- walking out to lunch and recess
- putting math centers away