One of the best things that you can do to prepare for a successful year is to plan to teach procedures for almost everything that will happen in your classroom.
I believe that in order to be an effective teacher, you must plan to spend more time teaching procedures than teaching content during the first couple of weeks of school. Having a solid, well thought out set of procedures will become the backbone of your classroom that allows teaching and learning to occur. The lack of classroom procedures and routines will lead to increased behavior problems. On the other hand, the class will flow more smoothly with less interruptions to both teaching and learning.
Although there are so many more procedures that need to be taught in order to establish and maintain a productive learning environment, here are my top ten to get you started.
The students are greeted each morning at the door with a hug, handshake, or high five. The students should enter the classroom quietly and politely, store their backpacks, and get the supplies they need for learning.
The students should push in their chairs and walk quietly to the line. The line leader should be at the front of the line and the rest of the students should be in number order. The students should walk quietly, facing forward, and without touching others or the wall. The students should be taught landmarks where they should stop automatically to wait for further instruction.
The students should clean off their desks, pick up all trash from the floor, clean and organize common areas in the classroom, and make sure everything they need is in their backpack.
Students should be shown how to access and store any supplies they will be needing in class. Students also need to practice how to politely share group supplies and use supplies correctly.
Student should practice quietly asking their table mates for help. If the student is not able to get the answer to their question from one of their peers, they need to be shown how to request assistance from the teacher.
Tissue boxes are placed around the classroom so that students are less likely to congregate at the tissue box. Students may get a tissue from the box without asking. After using, students should make sure the tissue gets in the trash can and not on the floor. Students should use hand sanitizer before returning to work.
The helpers for the day will pass out the papers. When the student gets their paper, they should immediately write their name and number on the top of the paper.
When I need the students' attention, I will give the signal. The students need to immediately stop what they are doing, look at me, and listen carefully for instructions.
The clean up song is approximately 2 minutes and 30 seconds. The students need to practice stopping their work, properly storing their supplies, cleaning the common areas in the classroom, and be seated in their chair for the further directions in this amount of time.
When a visitor enters the classroom, they should immediately be greeted by the class host or hostess. Students should be reminded that most visitors are there to watch the learning that is happening in the classroom and they should always be ready to respectfully explain what they are working on or learning.
Another key to creating a positive learning environment is making your room fun and motivating for students. "Rewarding" students for positive behavior is sometimes a controversial topic. However, at my school, the use of positive reinforcements is part of the school wide campus discipline plan...so I have to find a way that is effective and works in my classroom. It didn't take long to realize that the expense of keeping a treasure box full of "cool" prizes can easily become overwhelming. Trying to find a more practical solution, I began using a system that includes rewards coupons and brag tags. Personally, I use the dog themed set but I have created a few different sets for teachers that I work with.
I use Class Dojo as my primary method of tracking, documenting, and rewarding student behavior. I love Class Dojo because I am able to provide almost instantaneously feedback to both students and teachers. I am also able to connect Class Dojo with my behavior management kit. Each Friday, the students are able to see how many points they have earned through Class Dojo. They receive on Doggie Dollar for each positive behavior point that they earn.
To make storage for the Doggie Dollars easy, I reinforce ziplock bags with duct tape for the students to store their Doggie Dollars in. The bags are hung on a bulletin board using a ring and a push pin.
I gave up on the traditional treasure box years ago because it was expensive to maintain. I was going out once a month and spending around $40 on little "toys" only to have the kids ask, "When are we going to have something good in the treasure box?" I replaced the meaningless toys with reward coupons. The students can choose to spend their Doggie Dollars on any award that they choose. The kids LOVE this...and I LOVE it because it works and it's FREE! Each of my classroom management kits include more than 35 Rewards Coupons. There is a also a blank coupon where you can add your own rewards unique to your students.
I also use "Brag Tags" for my students. The brag tags are printed on card stock and laminated. I was able to purchase enough chains and connectors for my entire class from Hobby Lobby with their 40% off coupon for around $5. Each Friday, during morning meeting, I pass out one or more brag tags to each student. The kids got to wear their brag tag necklace during the day each Friday. The kids absolutely loved collecting their brag tags and seeing how many they can earn. Each of the classroom management kits include an assortment of brag tags. A blank brag tag is also included so you can customize tags to meet your needs.
I currently have four different classroom management kits available and more are in the works. Each of these sets is on sale this week. You can click on any of the images to get a closer preview of what is included with each classroom management kit.
Dog Classroom Management Kit
Super Hero Classroom Management Kit
Owl Classroom Management Kit
Bee Classroom Management Kit
There are many more great ideas for the beginning of the year to be found in the Diggin' Into Next Year Linky Party.
Here is the schedule for the topics that will be covered in the upcoming weeks.