The first day of school is upon us which comes with the question – should I teach rules/expectations on that first day or do something fun? I believe that you can do both.
Routines and procedures are built into everything that happens in your classroom. Whatever you decide to do on the first few days of school, teach the routines and procedures that are required for them to be successful in that activity.
You are doing this now so that your classroom can run smoothly in November and March. Your future self will thank you!
1. Group Work Expectations
Hands-on activities are super important, but without clear expectations, they can lead to off-task behavior.
So right off the bat, we need to communicate to our students exactly what we want to see happening while working in groups. Here are some ideas to consider:
How to ask their partner for help and not just copy or just let their partner copy
How to treat the materials – task cards, technology, manipulatives
How to use your voice appropriately during group work
How to get help if they are both stuck
How to get up from their seat if they need a supply
The first day of school was great for this. You teach the routine, they start their group or partner work, and then you can circulate to meet your students!
2. Entering the Classroom
This is important to teach because this will happen everyday.
What do you want students to do when they come into class?
Where should they look to get directions?
Can they chat with their friends until the bell rings?
I wanted my students to enter and be able to get started right away.You could do this with a Welcome Slide which had both the agenda, the materials needed, and a warm-up so no time in class was wasted. I left my expectations on the board all year long because they more or less stayed the exact same.
3. Cell Phones
*Before determining your classroom cell phone policy, make sure it is aligned with the policy set in place by your school.
Cell phones are amazing tools that you can utilize as a teacher to create maximum learning impact. With that said, they are also HUGE distractions.
Whatever you decide, be consistent in this routine and procedure. Are students going to use their cell phone in class today as a part of the lesson? Add it to your agenda slide. Problems usually arise when communication is unclear.
Have you heard of Pocket Points? It is an app that rewards students for staying off their phones.
After last year, it is much more likely that your students will have access to a device. Here are a few questions to ask yourself and plan to teach your students:
How should students treat technology?
When do the devices need to be charged?
What are the consequences of damage? (Most students require students to sign an Agreement so start there)
What websites are ok for early finishers?
Can students listen to music?
What happens if their device isn’t working?
How do they get help logging in?
How will you know that they are listening to you while their devices are out? I liked to show a pacman and ask students to fold their screen to 45 degrees, like pacman, when I was giving an instruction or needing their attention.
On the first day with technology, the objective should be just to get them logged in. Plan to have something paper based for them to work on while you help students navigate the various technology challenges.
Teach students how to make a bookmark to your LMS or class website, so that they always have a central location to go to.
If you are flipping your classroom, then you may have some additional routines and procedures about how to use the technology at home.
5. That One Thing
Every teacher has a specific thing that drives them nuts.
Whatever that one thing is (and if this is your first year, you may not know it yet, but you will!), decide on how you will prevent students from doing it and how you will enforce what you want.
What routines and procedures do you teach the first day of school? What about the first week?
Need more routines & procedures?
20 Must Teach Routines & Procedures
15 more routines and procedures to teach your students
5 Routines to Teach in the Digital Classroom
Maneuvering the Middle has been sharing blog posts for 6 years. This post was originally published in the summer of 2019. It has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.