The list of procedures when getting back to school can be shocking and overwhelming at first. How did your kids learn to walk in a line last year? How did you get them to respond “Jelly!” to your call so easily when you shouted “Peanut Butter?” It takes a while to get everyone back into the groove but with diligence, the first weeks can be made easy!
Let’s dig into the 10 procedures I LOVE to teach on the first day of school. Ready?!
- Morning Routine: The best way to teach this is to have everything set up when they walk in. Display a slide on the screen with instructions so they can refer to it as needed. Keep it simple…3 steps, mainly visual, with few words! Stand in the doorway and greet them as they walk in. Share your expectation and help them settle in. Once everyone has arrived, pause their work time, explain whole group, and send them back for a few more minutes. This builds in the routine with experience and sets the stage for the day. Pro tip: start them off with a coloring sheet, a basic math problem sheet, an activity packet, a selection of games, etc. The lower the risk, the higher the participation.
- Call and Response: I LOVE this! “Chicka Chicka…Boom Boom,” “Peanut Butter…Jelly,” and “Class Class?…yes yes?” to name a few! While it can be tempting to bust them all out on the first day, I encourage you to refrain. Pick your favorite and tell the kids, “I am going to teach you one of my favorite ways to know that I am ready to tell you something. I will say ‘Chicka Chicka’ when you hear this, your job is to stop, put your eyes on me, and say ‘Boom Boom.’ Then you will need to wait because something important is about to happen.” Give them a few opportunities to try this before springing it on them later in the day!
- Bathroom: Tackle this one ASAP! Nothing is scarier than entering a new classroom with a new teacher and new classmates and not knowing if, when, and where the bathroom is! As soon as you have everyone in the classroom, use this as opportunity to introduce the bathroom. The best part? Unless you are one of the lucky few with a bathroom in your room, you’ll have to teach kids to line up so that you can walk down to the bathroom together. I am a HUGE fan of multi-tasking. Grab your class and walk them down to the bathroom. Here you can explain where it is, when they can use it, how much soap is appropriate, and the 1-2-3 save a tree paper towel trick! Then, of course, give them the chance to go!
- Lining Up and Hallway: You are headed to the bathroom so let’s pause in the hallway and tackle walking expectations too!! Want my secrets?? Check out this post!
- Behavior Expectations: This is the best and hardest to dig into because it is so nuanced. I love to start off by building a class promise rather than a list of rules. If we build it together, the collaboration brings us together and sets us up for success. Check out my class promise here!
- Moving Around the Classroom: Teaching students who are constantly on the move can feel a lot like teaching popping corn!! It is distracting, stressful, and not productive. Take a few moments to share where your students are to be during instruction. For your rule followers, be sure to discuss moments when leaving the learning space is ok (bandaids, tissues, bathroom, pencil sharpening, emergency). If you have desks, take this time to address when to open and close desks so that you don’t have a percussion band rocking all day in the room!
- Pencil Sharpening and Tissues: We all have that one student who is determined to sharpen their pencil down to the smallest it can be before it jams the sharpener. Yes, you know the one! Or the kiddo that uses four tissues at once! Or the one that gets up in the middle of the lesson and sharpens while you are teaching! Spare everyone the chaos and address it upfront! Pro tip: combat the sharpening issue by having a bucket of sharpened pencils ready for them so that they can swap out a dull pencil for a sharp one without disturbing anyone!
- Getting the Teacher’s Attention: I love to read the book “My Mouth is a Volcano” to address blurting in a conversational matter. Then, we discuss how to raise our hands and even practice doing it. Then I take some time to ask kids to share about their summer to give them practice listening, waiting, and sharing. It takes 10 minutes and it transforms our whole day!
- Lunch and Recess: The question I get asked allllll dayyyy lonngggg is “when is recess and lunch?!” Who can blame them. The first day is a lot to take in! To address this, I add the time to the board so that they can watch the clock (instead of asking me!). Then, before we go, we leave a bit early to walk through the lunchroom and discuss the expectations before I set them free. I love to stay in the lunch room and eat with them on the first day in case I have any sweet kiddos that feel shy and need a little boost.
- Pack Up and Dismissal: When we get back from lunch and recess, I post the dismissal time on the board, otherwise I get asked all afternoon as they start to tucker out! When the time does finally arrive, I start early. Give yourself at least 30 minutes. You don’t want to be running out the door in a panic because (in my opinion) the most stressful part of the day is the end. We want to get everyone home safely so start off with cleaning the floor and stacking chairs. Then gather them on the floor to determine everyone’s plan for getting home and the expectations for that mode of transportation. If there is time, end with a book or a game until the bell rings.
As exhausted as you are, be sure to tell them over and over again how excited you are for tomorrow so that they are eager to rush back!
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