Thursday, July 28, 2016

5 First Day Procedures You Need to Teach

The beginning of the school year is right around the corner. Teachers everywhere are planning out their room decor, thinking about their first week's plans, and trying to get back in the mindset of the school year. But, did you know that the most important thing you should be doing right now is figuring out what procedures you want your students to learn the first day...the first week?

When your new students walk into your classroom on the first day of school, they are nervous and shy. Is she/he going to be nice? Will I like my new class? What do I do if I have to go to the bathroom? I'm not kidding. That last question is important. It's so important that it is one of the first procedures I teach on the first day of school. I want to ease my new students minds right away.  I want them to feel a sense of belonging and knowing how things work in my class.

I spend a considerable amount of time teaching procedures the first two weeks of school. Each day I introduce 5 procedures and review all of the previously taught ones. Does this take a lot of time? Yes, but it is completely and utterly worth it! Here's my list of the top 5 procedures that I teach on the first day of school.

If I am not teaching the whole group, place the bathroom pass on your desk. sign the bathroom sheet, and go quietly to the bathroom. Do not play in the bathroom! Come back into the classroom, wash your hands with soap and water, dry them with no more than 2 paper towels, and make sure the towels land in the trash basket. Put the pass back and return to your seat. 

Seems specific doesn't it? That's the point. This is an area where shenanigans seem to begin, so I make sure they know exactly what it expected.  In our school, bathrooms are in hallways between classrooms, so students are able to go anytime we are in the classrooms. But, I don't want them getting up during instruction and missing important activities and information. Throughout the day, there are plenty of times when I am not teaching whole group, so this procedure is not too restrictive.

However in the event it's an emergency, my procedure is: 

If you need to go to the bathroom at an unspecified time, please raise your hand and ask, "May I please go to the bathroom?"
Coming to Attention

When your attention is needed, Mrs. Hanneken will ask for your attention in several ways. When you hear these, stop what you are doing and listen for instructions.

When I say                                            You say

"Marco"                                                   "Polo"
"Spongebob"                                          "Squarepants"
"Florida State"                                      "Seminoles"

I've tried many different methods over the years, but these seem to work really well. Choose just a few and use them for awhile. You will need to change them periodically because they will begin to ignore you. Then it's the perfect time to teach them a new one. You can find lists of these call outs on Pinterest. 

When I teach this, I refuse to continue until 100% of my students are paying attention. THIS IS IMPORTANT! If you don't, this method won't work. Once they realize you are serious, you rarely have a problem and you and your students can get back to work right away. 

Lining Up

In order to maximize learning in my classroom, I want my students to be on task 100% of the time. So, when it is time for us to leave the classroom for lunch or special area classes, I want them to line up quickly and quietly. 

Our class will line up in alphabetical order. The line leader will be first, then the door holder. You will line up quietly, fold your arms, face forward and be ready to leave. We will leave the classroom when everyone is ready. 

If they don't follow these directions, I tell them to sit down and we'll try again. After this happens a few times, they get annoyed and do it right. Now they know I mean business!

 5 ft. Rule

I can't take credit for coming up with this, but it was clearly a GENIUS who did. You know how your students all need you at the same time and how they say your name a MILLION times a day and they never notice that you are talking to another human being? They just interrupt a lot? Yea, me too.

Here's the solution to this problem and I start it on the first day of school.

If you need to ask a question or tell me something important and I am with another student, talking to an adult, or eating my lunch, you will follow the 5 ft. rule. Stand 5 ft. away, but within my eyesight, and wait for me to acknowledge you. When I am able, I will help you with whatever you need. Do not interrupt me UNLESS it is an emergency. I define this as blood is running down your body, your hair is on fire, or someone is hurt. 

I model this explicitly and it works. Period. If they interrupt, I just ignore them. Not kidding.  Try it. Try it with your own children. You will love this one.

3 Before Me

There is one me and 20+ of them. I physically and mentally cannot answer every question my students have in the day. I am teaching them so many things on a daily basis, but usually the questions they have are not about content, but procedures or instructions. So, after I have given directions and asked my students if they have questions, which of course no one does.... But  5 minutes later they do... I  say Ask 3 Before Me. This gives them permission to ask three classmates before they ask me. This way, the students who understood the directions can tell the 5 minute later kids and I can move on. This procedure saves a lot of time and two things happen - they learn to rely on each other more and they become better listeners.  Win-Win!

These are the top 5 procedures I teach on the first day of school because they are some of the most important and they ease students minds right away. I have about 20 more that I will teach over the course of the first two weeks of school. I promise if you focus on teaching procedures the first two weeks of school, your school year will go smoother. Best of all, you won't waste valuable instructional time telling students what to do - they will know.  Just make sure you teach it, model it, practice it, and review it until they have got it.  

If you need help planning these top 5 procedures and what other procedures you may need, download my Classroom Procedures Worksheet to get you started. 

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