Monday, July 25, 2016

Invest Now {Part 1: Teaching and Practicing Routines and Procedures}

If I could give any advice to new teachers it would be this....the first two weeks of school are critical...Invest NOW or you will pay later.  If you spend time these first two weeks really teaching and practicing your routines and procedures it will pay off for the rest of the year.  It takes time yes, you have to go sloooow yes, sometimes it means practicing how we line up several times yes....but trust me, if you take the time to do it now it will help your classroom run smoothly the rest of the year.  

Here are some things that I do to teach and practice our classroom routines and procedures with intention.

Every year, I make a book of all of our routines and procedures.  Years ago that meant typing them out, printing them, gluing them onto construction paper, coloring a cover and binding them.  Old school sytle at its best!  Now, thanks to cute clip art and power point...I have a much cuter version that is easy to edit!

One of the great things about making this binder is that it forces me to sit down and really think through how we do things in our classroom.  Over the years some of those things have changed, I've found what works best for me.  

And if we are being real...sometimes things change throughout the year because they just aren't working the way I thought they would.  When that happens, I can just go in, edit and reprint!  

I love this binder because it helps me stay on track during those first two weeks when I'm teaching the procedures and we are practicing them.  It's a great reference tool for students {I keep it front and center those first few weeks and easily accessible} and it's super easy to leave for a sub so they can see how your room runs!

I've made a completely editable version of my Routines and Procedures Binder if you'd like to make one of your own!  You can check it out HERE!  

Teaching your classroom routines and procedures is just the beginning.  It is so important to practice...practice...practice until they get them right.  So, what are some ways that we practice?

1.  Model!
I always model for my students exactly how the routine or procedure should be done.  Seeing the teacher model it is one thing, but it's so much more engaging when it's one of their own modeling it.  One of my students' favorites is when we play, "What NOT to do!"  I choose a student to model the incorrect way to do the routine or procedure.  I encourage the audience to be looking for all of the things they did incorrectly, and then we discuss what went wrong!  They absolutely love getting to act "naughty!"  I ALWAYS follow this up with a student modeling the correct way to do it, with a discussion about what they did well!

2.  Practice Whole Group
After the routine or procedure is modeled we then practice as a class.  If we are practicing how we line up, for example, we watch students model what not to do, what to do, discuss both and then practice lining up.  I always give specific feedback about what they did well and what we can work on for next time.  Some times our next time happens right away, I never let them end practice on a bad note! Since they are lined up I will usually then get something else out of the way, like talking a quick walk to show them where the closest restrooms are.  

3.  Have Students Review the Routine/Procedure
Throughout the day during the first two weeks or so of school, I will call on students to review the routine or procedure and tell us step by step how it's done.  Sometimes I have them review with a shoulder or eye ball partner at their tables first and then I ask them to share what they discussed with their partners.  If needed, I will have students model it again!

I use every free second I have during the first two weeks to review and practice how we do things in our room. It takes time.  And sometimes we have to do things more than once.  But,  it is without a doubt time well spent. 

I promise that if you take the time to invest the beginning of the year it will pay off with a classroom that runs smoothly!

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