By now you’re probably gearing up to start back to school after the holidays. We’d all like to put 2020 in the past … what a ROUGH year it was! This is the perfect time to examine our class procedures and see what may need tweaking.
The new year always seems like a good time to rethink how things are progressing in our personal and working lives. Taking a look at what is working in our classroom as well as what is not working is something we should do every year. And not just at New Year’s! But since new goals and resolutions are kind of at the front of everyone’s mind right now, starting out fresh with our students seems like something we should consider.
Let’s examine our class procedures
There are a bazillion things that happen in your classroom every day that you can teach a procedure for. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration … but there are definitely a lot of them! We know as high school teachers that the more orderly our classrooms run, the less stress and chaos there will be for everyone.
Here are some actions that you might have procedures for:
- entering the classroom
- getting materials for class
- going to the restroom
- sharpening pencils
- using/not using cell phones
- turning in homework
- what to do if you were absent
- what to do when visitors are in the room
- taking a test
- the beginning of class
- how to get/put away lab materials
- how to get the teacher’s attention
And the list could go on.
When I first started teaching, I naively assumed that students would just basically behave on their own … after all, these were young adults! It didn’t take me long to realize how wrong I was about that.
I never dreamed that I would have to reprimand some students for the way they entered my classroom! Or that they wouldn’t realize that yelling out my name in the middle of class wasn’t the best way to get my attention … or at least, the kind of attention they wanted.
My mentor teacher gave me some advice that has stuck with me all these years. She said, “If you want kids to behave or do things a certain way, you have to teach them what you want them to do.” She was very wise and experienced, so I didn’t hesitate to start doing exactly that.
The hard part here is figuring out what you DO want them to do. There are a ton of things that you have to plan out before your students even set foot in your classroom. Then your class procedures will be put to the test. And you will most likely find that some things are working perfectly, while other procedures are not. Some of them may need to be scrapped altogether, but other ones may only need tweaking.
teaching your procedures
Over my career I came up with many procedures and many ways to teach them. I always spent a good deal of time over the summer thinking about how I could make things run more smoothly and head off any potential behavior issues. And I always kept my mentor teacher’s advice in mind.
One of the issues I always faced was when to teach my class procedures. I used to really hammer my course syllabus and procedures on the first day of school, ignoring the glazed look in my students’ eyes. (See this post describing what I now do on the first day of school). I finally hit upon a method that worked really well for me.
I came to realize that it would be great to get my students up and moving a bit on the first or second day of school, but in a controlled way. So I created a Powerpoint with a slide for each procedure. But instead of teaching it in a lecture, I decided to turn it into a scavenger hunt!
I printed out the slides and put each one in a sheet protector. Then I placed them in strategic spots all around the room. I made a recording sheet with questions that the students had to find the answers to by going around the room and finding the slide with the correct answer.
It worked really well. The kids were up and moving around, but on task. It took them about a class period (mine are 42 minutes) to complete the activity, then we went over the answers in class the next day. At this point I was able to add some extra details that I wanted them to know, and it was much less painful!
I did this at the beginning of the school year and also the first day of the new semester to help refresh and reset our classroom. And I was surprised that some of the students forgot certain procedures! So it was a good way to gently remind them of the way they were supposed to do things.
Classroom Procedures Scavenger Hunt
If you’re interested in this resource, I’ve put it up in my TpT store. I’ve made it fully editable so that you can change it to fit your own classroom. And I’ve also included 5 blank slides so that you can add procedures that might not be included.
It’s a fun way to make boring procedures a bit less painful!
How do you teach your class procedures? We’d love to hear!