One of the things I remember learning in undergrad was that students CRAVE routines. They need boundaries so that they know what is expected of them and what is not. That is why this week I am going to share with you some of the student routines I have set up in my classroom to help my students be successful.
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I will start off by saying, I have very high expectations for my kids. I don’t believe in holding their hands (figuratively) or being easy on them. My kids are aware of my expectations and follow them because they know that is what I expect of them. I think this is key to creating a welcoming environment. I am not mean to them nor do I yell at them like a drill sergeant. Safety is found within boundaries and love- which is what I try to give my students everyday.
Last week I shared about getting back into the groove with reviewing routines and expectations. This week I am going to share about specific student routines- like morning routines, afternoon routines, and daily routines.
Students enter my classroom in the morning and immediately begin the process of unpacking their backpack, turning in their Take Home Folders, and “checking in.” They simply move their clip from “absent” to “present.” I do this for a couple of reasons. 1. It builds responsibility- this is your job to do every morning, you need to do. I will not do it for you. 2. It helps me at attendance time, especially because this year my class is not physically with me when attendance is due. I can quickly glance at the clips and see who is here or not here.
(Students who are tardy are taught to place their tardy slip on top of my keyboard when they get to school. I prop them up in between my keys on the keyboard so when the attendance bell rings, they are right in my face! This is one of those “teacher routines” I have set in place to keep papers from going everywhere.
After they are all checked in, they can glance up at our Morning Message to see what is expected of them. Because the kids come in so sporadically, I don’t really want to repeat the directions 17 times. The kids can easily look at what I have typed up on the screen and do it. (This also gets them used to the format of a friendly letter which is a 2nd grade TEKS).
I am not a huge fan of students just reading first thing in the morning. I am not really sure why, I have no specific evidence or data to prove that this is a bad thing. The kids really enjoy doing stations. It gets them moving about the room and interacting with other students in a healthy way. They aren’t just sitting there reading silently being tempted to talk to their partner. They are able to talk but I am guiding their conversation because it is (usually) about the station they are working on.
Dismissal is my least favorite part of the day. It is when I am most likely to get overwhelmed and lose my cool. We are on a strict schedule by this point, I can’t just run over time and take a few minutes from the next lesson. Plus, I am ready to get these sweet darlings on a bus and HOME!
I start by passing out student folders. This is when I glance in them for any notes from home, check their reading log, and write any notes I may need to to parents. I’ll also pass out any papers I may have at this time. Then I will ask them to “clean up, pack up, stack up, and do their job” which is something I learned from a teacher I observed during my undergrad.
I will do a whole post on classroom jobs in a couple of weeks, but I will give you a quick rundown of what I mean. My students do pretty much everything in our classroom. They spend just as much time in there as me (HAH!). But, they are responsible for most of the mess. So they get to clean it up and shut it down so that it is ready for the next day.
Students do jobs from sharpening pencils to organizing turned in papers. They move the clips on the check in station back to absent and turn off all the lamps in my room. I have jobs that involve cleaning/sweeping the floor and making sure the library is back in order. Again, my goal here is to teach responsibility and ownership. If they feel ownership in this classroom, they will help take care of it more.
Since I started teaching I have had teachers come in and ask me how I keep my room so clean throughout the day. My answer is: my kids. They do this! We don’t move on until things are picked up and put away. We don’t leave the classroom unless it is spotless. It is not the janitors job to pick up pencils or move chairs that didn’t get stacked. Just like we take care of our home-home, we take care of our school-home. This, my friends, is how my classroom is always so clean! 🙂 That simple!
Let’s now talk about a few of the daily routines I have in place for my students:
1. Team Mats
My students sit in teams. I have my desks arranged in groups of 4. This is to support cooperative learning which is a big component in myÂ classroom. I use the team mats to help guide conversation and assist with getting materials, turning in papers, and other daily tasks.
Each table has a mat and students can easily look to see what number they are. It also shows who their shoulder partner and face partner. The letters A and B are included on there so I can quickly say “Turn toÂ your shoulder partner, Partner A will speak first.” Bam, everyone knows who is supposed to be talking right now.
2. Team Captain and Daily Helper
I also use the team mats to help with daily tasks. My Team Captain is the “leader” of the table for that day. If we need to get our team crayon boxes from the back of the room I can easily say “Team Captain, please go get the crayon boxes.” Or, “Team Captain, please pick up all the papers from your team and turn them in.” This keeps from the same kids doing it over and over and I don’t have to worry about making sure to call on a different student each time.
The Daily Helper is the same kind of idea. I number my students at the beginning of the year according to alpha order. When it is their turn to be the Daily Helper they get to help me with things like running papers to other teachers, passing out papers to the class, giving everyone hand sanitizer when we go to lunch, etc.
3. Carpet Seating
Yes, I am that teacher that assigns spots on the carpet. I intentionally assign seats at their desks to facilitate cooperative learning, so why not do the same on the carpet?
On the wall next to our carpet area I have table signs. Students sit in the correct row for their table. I organize it even further by having the number 1’s (from the team mats) sit closest to the wall, #2’s next to them, then #3’s and #4’s sit on the edge of the carpet.
Lastly, I use CHAMPS to give my students expectations for each specific lesson. My campus was trained on this model before I got there, so this may not be specifically how it is supposed to be used. But it’s what works for me!
C-Conversation (what voice level student’s should be at)
H- Help (how students signal to you that they need help
A- Activity (what the students are doing
M- Movement (can they go to the bathroom, get water? Where should they be sitting)
P- Participation (who they are working with)
S- Idk what this is so I don’t use it 😉
Student Routines: They are super important! Want to create a welcoming and safe environment? Give them boundaries and routines. They CRAVE it!
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Until next time,