Classroom Expectations and Rules

Why are Classroom Routines Important? Manage Transitions Now!

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Classroom Routines and Procedures

Transitions! ARGH  . . .  a word that brings on a cold sweat for so many teachers!  So much class time and energy is lost to managing classroom transitions unless you have classroom routines and procedures. 

This ⬆️  is the answer to “Why are classroom routines important?”!

Truthfully, I love classroom routines and procedures because they are foundational in successful classroom management, they keep me organized, and they nurture student independence. 

Which has the added bonus of preventing my burnout! 🥴

Routines and procedures in classroom are the magic wand that wave away stressful transitions. They are essential to an effective classroom management plan, and they are the glue that holds things together.

Classroom routines and procedures are here to save your day!  

Yes, they will take time to determine and establish.

But, they can be tweaked if they need to be.

And they will create calm and order for you and your students.

Classroom routines and procedures for the win! 🥳

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Classroom routines and procedures provide your students stability and direction.

What are Classroom Routines and Procedures?

Classroom routines are the What of the Classroom

Classroom routines are the daily ebb and flow of the classroom. For example, we had a typical daily flow. But when my class had music first thing on Thursday morning we skipped our usual morning routine of doing laps around the school. We did this to be ready for the music teacher.

As adults, we plan out our day on our phone or in our head as a part of the organization that helps us to feel stable and productive. When we have the same activity on a daily, weekly or monthly basis it becomes a part of our routine that we look forward to . . .

or not 😏. 

For example, my morning routine includes getting dressed, making coffee, fibre drink, and having my quiet time. 

Our students depend upon our providing the routine that gives structure and stability to their day, week and month. 

My Classroom Routines

As mentioned above, there can be routines for the day, week, month, and even the year in a classroom.  However, most of that just doesn’t make sense to share here.

In the primary classroom the routine is pretty much the day plan. 

 I confess, despite knowing how important sharing a shape of the day is because of my background in learning support, I really struggled to remember to take care of it. 

Because of that struggle I came to resent it.

Then, one day, the students pointed out that it looked like it was the same day all over again, and I realized I truly had forgotten to do it.  So, I did it with the kids, and we discussed it as I put up each part of the day.

Not only did it turn out that they liked this approach better, it gave the students who were responsible for doing the calendar the time to do the calendar without us all waiting.

Love it.  😍

As we got established in the routine for each week, they had a more concrete understanding of changes in routine that were upcoming. When we had a field trip coming up, they knew that they were missing laps, word work, writing and recess that morning.  

The abstract concepts that were words, on a sticker, on a calendar became real moments in time. They learned delayed gratification, a little bit about time management, how to give up one activity they loved to enjoy a different one, and more.

All of this is because I created the stability of a routine, and then we were able to manage the ebbs and flows as it flexed.

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Classroom routines are the backbone of what is happening over the day, week, month and year.

Classroom Procedures are the How  of the Classroom

As adults we have certain systems or procedures that we find effective for so many aspects of our lives from brushing teeth to making coffee. 

These systems and procedures for the things we do allow us to go on autopilot to some degree. Procedures minimize decision making as we make the initial decisions as we set up the procedure, so we don’t have to make it every single time.

For example, in my personal morning routine my procedure for making coffee is always: 

  1. add water to coffee maker
  2. grind coffee
  3. put coffee in filter basket
  4. put coffee pot on stove on high heat
  5. put 1/2 cup milk in mug
  6. place mug in microwave for 140 seconds
  7. while the milk is heating pour water into a glass
  8. add fiber to water and drink 
  9. Take mug of milk from microwave and stir in honey
  10. Halt microwave before the alarm goes so I don’t wake my husband
  11. Take coffee and get started on quiet time

Within that simple procedure are multiple decisions I have made ahead of time:

  1. Type of coffee pot and coffee I use (stovetop Mocha and ground – my husband drinks instant.
  2. Amount, (1/2 cup), and type (2% A2 milk) I used to use cream and almond milk so this has a creamy taste but lower in fat and higher in protein.
  3. All that milk cools down a cup of coffee so the microwave if important
  4. Squeezing in my fiber drink gives me something to do and helps me remember to drink it.
  5. Doing my devotions first thing ensures I prioritize them, and makes it feel like coffee with a friend.

Now, think about all of the decisions you make in a day in the classroom. 

Imagine lessening the load by putting some of the procedures on autopilot!

Tempting, isn’t it? 

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Procedures are the how of implementing classroom routines and procedures.

Classroom Procedures Example

My class did laps around our school probably 128 days out of 180.  We missed a bunch because of music, and otherwise I believe we would only have missed a couple because of field trips etc. Classroom procedures are how we do the laps around the school in the morning which was a part of our daily routine. 

My classroom procedure for doing laps in the morning was:

  • Run or walk 2 laps or until Mrs. B. (that’s me) has completed 2 laps.
  • Walk in the same direction as Mrs. B.
  • Keep hands to self.
  • Do not disturb other classes by tapping on their windows.
  • If you are done before Mrs. B we wait outside the classroom until Mrs. B. arrives.
  • If you are late, you put your backpack outside the door and join us.
  • Noone is allowed to be inside the classroom on their own
  • Yes, you may enjoy time with friends from our class or from another class while doing laps
  • No, you may not play on the field or the playground
  • When Mrs. B. arrives, we line up and head in appropriately
  • If you still have not arrived, you have missed laps.

On a side note. . . starting the day with activity is the absolutely best thing you can do with your students.  Walking laps sounds boring, but they all loved it. 

No prep, high payoff activity. I will share why in another blog. Meanwhile, try it!

Teaching Procedures in the Classroom

Establishing Classroom Routines and Procedures in the classroom starts with creating and defining classroom expectations as I wrote about in a previous blog post.  

You may also want to read the blog post about reinforcing classroom expectations using a positive behavioural approach.

As you create, teach and reinforce classroom expectations much of the work of teaching procedures is being done.  

Are we going to play a math game? 

  • How do we treat the random partner we are given?
  • How do we get the tools we need?
  • What are the expectations for participation?
  • What are the consequences for not working within these expectations?

I am telling you the complete truth that transitioning was not a huge challenge for me.  There were absolutely times that patience was called for, and usually with a brief and temporary period of demonstrating follow through we got right back on track.

I shared in the blog post mentioned above how I would follow through. 

Creating Your Classroom Routines and Procedures Checklist

Your classroom routines and procedures checklist is, of course, highly dependent upon your context, your classroom management plan, classroom management philosophy, classroom management style, and your classroom organization. 

A Day of Classroom Routines Examples from My Class:

  • Greet the students
  • Do laps
  • Come in, greet me,  and get morning chores done.
  • Carpet time
  • Scripture verse
  • Word Work
  • Writing
  • Morning Recess
  • Math
  • Lunch Recess
  • Science, Social Studies or Art
  • Reading time
  • Dismissal

Of course, there wasn’t any day that actually fit that routine.  

Either there were special school wide events, or there were other classes that happened once or twice a week like P.E. or Music that would disrupt that block on that day of the week.

However, when you looked at the routine of the day over the course of the week you knew that on any given day writing sometimes got shifted to the afternoon, reading always happened, and we didn’t leave math out very often.

So, what does your classroom routine look like? 

My reading was always at the end of the day because by then they were ready for some solo quiet time.  They were done.

Fridays were always when we met with another class for alternating worship or STEM activities.  We also had our Versatiles and computers centers as they were super motivating for tired kiddos, the afternoon was art and reading buddies. 

This was an easy routine for the kiddos to follow, and something to look forward to for all of us. 

Identifying Procedures in the Classroom

As discussed above, classroom routines are what you are doing and classroom procedures are how you are doing it.

Maybe these questions will help you get started with deciding upon your procedures. 😉

How will students:

  • address you (ie. Ms, Miss, Mrs. Mr.)? 
  • greet you (ie: handshake, high give, fist bump, hug, their choice)?
  • get your attention (ie: hand up, red popsicle stick, quizzical look 😄)?
  • know to give you their attention (ie. feedback, your hand in the air, chant)?
  • obtain tools and resources in the classroom (ie. one member of the group, take turns) ?
  • remember expectations for cooperative work (ie. anchor charts, pre-activity review)?
  • get permission to go to the bathroom (ie. hand up, bathroom tag on desk)?
  • get a drink (ie.water bottle on desk, walk to the fountain)?
  • spend their time when finished their work (ie. early finishers booklet, read quietly?
  • check in when they are late (ie. note from home or the office)?
  • hand in completed assignments (ie. on your desk, in a basket)?
  • Identify their partner (ie. partner card, self-select, teacher assigned)?
  • remember classroom expectations and rules (ie.anchor charts, reminders)?
  • share outside toys (ie.sign-out, turn taking)?
  • line up (ie. inside, outside, 2-by-2)?
  • walk down the hallway (ie. hands on hips, with marshmallow shoes, with a partner)?
  • return and organize materials (ie. take turns being responsibility, replace your own) ?
  • resolve conflict (ie. classroom procedures, school procedures, parents being involved)?
  • store wet outerwear (ie. take it off in hallway or classroom, carry boots or put them in cubby)?
  • sharpen their pencil (ie. personal sharpener, classroom chore, as needed)?
  • complete their chore (ie. with a partner, time of day, what to do when finished) ?
  • consequences of unexpected behaviour (ie.recess practice, behaviour chart, losing class points)?

For the record, I don’t use all of these options, but I know that many of them are common.

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These anchor charts with cute classroom images on them can help you to set visual reminders around the classroom.

Implementing Classroom Routines and Procedures

I live near an orchard, Davison’s Orchard to be exact. Davison’s is a multi-generational family orchard, and I have been blessed to teach two of the children from the younger generation.  

This morning I zipped up to the orchard to buy some peaches, watermelon and cantaloupe for a delicious summer fruit salad, and I ran into the mother of one of my former students.  

I shared how I loved teaching them and helping them to mature, and that was all a part of classroom management.   

The mum kindly shared with me that she knew this from her daughter. She could see that her daughter knew what was expected of her, and that she was loved.

My point?

I can’t overstate the classroom routines and procedures importance in getting your classroom management established. Check out this blog post to learn more.

Do you have classroom routines or classroom procedures that you just couldn’t live without?  Share the wealth with others by describing them in the comments below.

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