Back from break? Not sure how to get back into the swing of things? Need to review routine in the classroom before diving into content? I’ve got you covered! I’ve got tons of tips and tricks for reestablishing important routines and procedures to make the first week back super effective.
Now, before we get started, maybe you’re thinking…I already established classroom norms at the start of the school year. Or…I have SO much to do I can’t waste time.
Trust me – sometimes you have to go slow to go fast, especially after an extended break.
There will be plenty of time for writing thesis statements, teaching show don’t tell and connotation in literature, and rhetorical analysis… I promise.
How many times have you said, “I’m going to start a routine and stick to it”?
Aaaaand how many times has it actually worked out? I know I am guilty of this. In reality, routines (even classroom routines) are much easier said than done.
The truth is that if you want your students to follow a routine and be able to transition between activities smoothly, then you need them to be able to do so in the first place!
If your class does not have any established beginning routines or transitions, then what happens when it comes time for the bell ringers? If a student doesn’t know the routines for putting away supplies, cleaning up, and writing down the homework for the day, then how does this impact everyone else’s ability to leave class on time? These types of problems are common and can lead into other problems that can impact student performance.
The good news is that by establishing routines and sticking to them, you can curb negative behaviors and habits and help students make the most out of class time.
Classroom procedures are essential for effective classroom management.
To make your procedures even more effective, get students to buy into the process. I know it might sound a little woo woo to think students will actually help you establish routines and procedures (after all, they are adolescents), but trust me, they will value getting to have a say, and they are much more likely to hold themselves (and their friends) accountable if they had a hand in the creation process.
To get your students involved in the process, survey them about what they think worked well and what they would like to see change related to routines and procedures in the second half of the year.
Some classroom procedures it may be useful to survey your students on are:
- How to enter and leave the room
- How to get ready for the start of class (e.g., bell ringers/do-nows, readying supplies, sitting in an assigned seat/area)
- Independent reading time routines and expectations
- How to use the classroom library and supplies
- Cleaning up one’s workspace and the classroom
- Packing up for the day and preparing for tomorrow’s class
Once you’ve collected the survey data, share your findings, your feelings, and some of your own observations.
You could even set up the sharing out as a Socratic discussion or station work to keep it on-task and productive. After you’ve discussed as a class, guide students in creating a new list of routines and procedures and display it in the room.
Classroom Routines and Procedures Examples
If you find yourself in need of a routine and procedure refresh after break, don’t be afraid to shake things up.
Try one (or more) of these examples of classroom routines and procedures:
- Establish a procedure for gaining students’ attention during group work
- Ask three then me (okay, hear me out on this. It is an elementary procedure, but it will save your sanity when you’ve gone over the directions 15 times and that one student who had their Airpods in the whole time asks what he needs to be doing)
- Raise your hand to contribute an idea or ask a question
- Wait until instruction is over to get out of your seat
- Establish a hall pass signout system
- How to get started at the beginning of class and to prepare to leave the classroom at the end of the period
- Try a QR code for keeping track of tardies (or maybe your admin actually keeps track of those for you…a girl can dream, right?)
Transitions in the Classroom
As part of your classroom routines, don’t forget to build in transitions and practice them with your students. Transitions are important for helping students get from one activity to another and help mitigate losing precious instruction time.
Here are some examples of transitions in the classroom:
- Moving from whole or small group to independent work time
- Switching between stations
- Moving from bell work/warmup into a mini lesson
- Returning from lunch or a break
Here are some ways to establish (or reestablish) routines for transitioning in the classroom:
- Use a timer visible to students so they know how much time is left in an activity
- Transition music (this can also be used during active breaks)
- Use brief and clear directions
Don’t be afraid to practice transitions and other routines with your students.
I know it sounds a little cheesy, especially for older students, but after a long break it really helps set the tone so students know exactly what is expected of them.
I think students will appreciate showing respect for their time by wanting to make sure transitions are quick, smooth, and controlled (hey, controlled chaos is still controlled!).
Routine in the Classroom Tips
- Be positive and consistent. When students know what’s expected from them, they will be less likely to misbehave and more likely to do what you ask. If possible, give examples of appropriate behavior. Then follow through with relevant consequences.
- Model good behavior yourself! Showing that you care about their success can help build trust and respect between teacher and student which leads me into my next tip:
- Plan accordingly for an assertive first week back after break!
It can be tempting to dismiss students who do not follow established routines and procedures, especially after a break. After all, we’re just getting back into the swing of things, right? Wrong. That creates a slippery slope of behavior and classroom management. Don’t be afraid to be an assertive and warm demander once those routines and procedures have been reviewed and practiced.
If you and your students are struggling to get back into a routine after break, remember to start small. Reevaluate your existing routines and procedures and see what could be streamlined and made more efficient.
Eliminate anything that doesn’t matter, and simplify, simplify, simplify. What’s important is that it works for you and your students. Don’t worry about it being fancy schmancy enough to make it to Teacher Tik Tok.
Work That is Worth It
This is a lot to cover in the first week back, but it really is worth it! You’ll be able to get through the first few weeks more easily, and your students will be able to settle in much faster if they know what they should expect.
Remember that it is important to remember that the first week back can be chaotic and stressful for everyone, but with some planning and adjusting on our part as teachers we can keep things running smoothly for our students so they can focus on learning!
Hey, if you loved this post, you’ll want to download a FREE copy of my guide to streamlined grading.
I know how hard it is to do all the things as an English teacher, so I’m excited to share some of my best strategies for reducing the grading overwhelm.