Classroom Routines and Schedules

Set up a routine for your classroom procedure on the first day. Your students will feel organized and the days will run more smoothly. New teachers will find this resource particularly valuable.
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What are the best routines and schedules to use in a classroom? 

Routines are a way of managing the classroom. They are a set of expectations and procedures teachers can use to save time and ensure a smooth-functioning classroom all school year long. Here are some routines and procedures for you to use in your classroom:

Fire Alarm

Remember the Rule of Five: there should be absolutely no more than five rules posted in the classroom. More than that will be confusing, overwhelming, difficult to remember, and perhaps even perceived as dictatorial by students.

One of the first things you'll need to address early on the first day are the rules and routines of the classroom. Some very interesting educational research suggests that when rules and procedures are established and discussed during the first days of school (and reinforced again during the first three weeks), the class runs more smoothly and behavior problems are minimized.

Ask yourself the following questions, then share the answers with your students on the first day:

  • How will students respond in class? (raising hands, a signal or sign)

  • What are the seating arrangements?

  • How will students enter and exit the classroom?

  • How will tardiness and absences be handled?

  • How much can students interact with each other?

  • How will homework be handled?

  • How will missed work or makeup work be handled?

  • What will happen when a rule is violated?

  • How will classroom visitors be handled?

Equally important is the need to share with students a daily schedule of activities. Post this schedule in the front of the classroom, and use it to let students know a daily plan of action (for elementary students) or a sequence of procedures for an instructional period (for secondary students). This schedule offers students an expectation for each day in your classroom. There's comfort in knowing how a lesson or day will be conducted. Students, just like adults, are creatures of habit, and enjoy having the security of a planned sequence of expectations.

Here are two sample daily routines.

Elementary Secondary
  • Greet students
  • Greet students at door
  • Hang up coats
  • Go to seats
  • Go to seats
  • Quick motivational activity
  • Independent activity
  • Take attendance
  • Class welcome
  • Review lesson format
  • Salute flag, pledge
  • Go over lesson objectives
  • Take attendance
  • Begin the lesson
  • Sing a song
  • Incorporate group work
  • Discuss calendar, weather
  • Independent work
  • Lunch count
  • Collect assignments
  • Collect homework
  • Dismissal procedures
  • Discuss daily schedule
  • Begin first lesson
  • (Other activities will follow throughout the day.)

The schedule you set on the first day will obviously be subject to change throughout the year as a result of unexpected events (guest speakers, assemblies, early dismissal, etc.). Nevertheless, students should have some expectations of how their day or a certain period will be framed. These predictable routines assure a well-managed and well-disciplined classroom.


Expert Opinion

For early elementary students, limit the choices to two (“Which book should we read today—In One Tidepool by Anthony D. Fredericks or Into the Sea by Brenda Guiberson?”). Upper elementary students and middle school students can select from three or four choices. Secondary students can be provided with an unlimited menu of choices (within reason).

Teachers succeed when they share classroom management responsibility with their students. Giving students a sense of ownership in the affairs of the classroom is not only a powerful motivating force but is also a way to ensure harmony and promote group cohesiveness.

From day one, it is most valuable to let students know that they will be encouraged to make choices in your classroom. Some choices will be minor; others will be major. The important thing to convey to students is the fact that this is their classroom—a place that supports them in their learning just as you will support them in all their academic endeavors.

Share some of the choices with students:

  • Choosing seats

  • Choosing a read-aloud book

  • Selecting a game to play

  • Deciding on classroom rules

  • Deciding on classroom procedures

  • Selecting rainy-day activities

  • Establishing ways to work in groups

  • Setting routines for obtaining materials and supplies

  • Determining procedures for trips to the restroom

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TeacherVision Staff

TeacherVision Editorial Staff

The TeacherVision editorial team is comprised of teachers, experts, and content professionals dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and relevant information in the teaching space.

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