Routines and Schedules

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Routines are a way of managing the classroom. They are a set of expectations that save time and ensure a smooth-functioning 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 room, 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. 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.

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    Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Success as a Teacher © 2005 by Anthony D. Fredericks. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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