Worried about warding off chaos in your classroom? Start your year by establishing these 5 basic routines and you will find day-to-day management going smoothly.
Entering the Classroom
Everyone knows not to enter the classroom by running around, screaming, and playing, right? No, not everyone knows that, and even those who do will be tempted to try and get away with their behavior.
Think about what exactly you want from the students as they enter the classroom, both at the start of your class and when coming back from any special classes or activities. For me, students are expected to enter the room quietly, get out their SSR book, and begin reading in silence before the bell rings. I also make it clear that questions are not welcome until our silent reading time is over to stop the chaotic crowd from forming at my desk.
To enforce this routine, students are asked to exit the room and try again if they are unable to follow my expectations. My silent reading time only begins once everyone has managed to follow the routine.
The First Five to Ten Minutes
Come up with something specific to fill the first five to ten minutes of class. This year, my school has mandated that this be SSR, so that is what I do. In previous years, I used journal prompts projected on the board and free-writing.
You need to make certain that the students come to internalize this part of their routine so well that they require no prompting on your part. The goal of this routine is to settle the students and put them in the right mindset for the rest of the day, while also giving you a moment to focus on things such as quick grading and attendance.
If you move desks for various activities, establish routines for moving them. The goal should be to train the students so they can get into the correct formation in 30 seconds or less. If it takes any longer than that, the room will quickly become chaotic, and since heavy objects are being moved, there is a chance that students could be injured.
One way I made this easier is by naming the various desk formations I use and placing tape on the floor marking where the feet go for the various formation; each formation had a different color, and that is how I named them. All I had to do was say, “Move desks to blue,” and the students would be situated where I needed them in about 15-20 seconds.
Cleaning Up/Ending the Day
There is nothing I hate more than a messy classroom, especially because we share our classrooms at my school. I imagine there are many teachers out there that feel the same. Not to mention that a classroom that looks chaotic quickly devolves into chaos.
Make certain that you have a clean-up routine that works for your classroom. In my case, this means using the last three minutes of every period to get all trash out of the floor, sweep any dirt they tracked in from gym, and ensuring nothing is left underneath the desks. Because my classes change every 45 minutes, my clean-up routine is also the first part of my routine for ending class.
Once the students have cleaned, I have them sit in their desks with their bags on top of their desks so I can easily survey the floor and the racks below their desks. Then, they must wait to get up until I dismiss them.
Leaving the Classroom
Even if everything has been going stellar, leaving the classroom can still cause problems. The kids rush to get out, knocking each other over, and possibly hurting others with their backpacks. It is important that you establish clear expectations for how the students leave the room.
For myself, students exit the room by rows, with the row closest to the door leaving first. They must walk out, not run, and are to keep their distance from each other so they are not knocking each other around.
With these five routines, I find that my classroom is calm and easily managed, making it an excellent learning environment.