13 First Day of School Procedures to Make Your Year a Breeze


When you are starting out the school year, there are so many “little” things that you have to do. You have to get your room set up, get to know your students, familiarize yourself with IEPs, and most importantly you have to create procedures. Starting off the school year with students who don’t know you and your style can be trying; that’s why it’s important to teach everyday procedures in your class on the first day of school (and beyond!) so students know what is expected of them (and so you don’t need to use that whole bottle of pain killer in your drawer). While it is important to teach procedures on day one, they must be practiced and reinforced all year! Let’s start at the beginning. 

 1.       Welcome!
Students are literally going to be entering your classroom every single day. Teach students right away how you want them to enter the room. More than teaching it, you should practice it to. When you leave for lunch, recess, music, or another special and come back into the room, what should students do? You don’t have to have different procedure for every little thing students leave for, but you want to have general procedures. Setting this procedure will save you many headaches in the days to come.

2.       Start your engines!
Starting the day is going to happen, well a lot. Having a procedure that includes attendance, lunch count, Pledge of Allegiance, and getting specific supplies ready is a great idea. Having your day start off smooth can set the tone for the rest of the day. 

3.       Line Up!
Just as students are going to be entering your room daily, you are going to be asking them to line up just as often. Making sure you have a procedure so this does not turn into a herd of elephants tromping down the hallway. You can have dots on the floor for students to stand on to help keep students in place with an appropriate amount of space between them.

4.       Move Out!
After students are lined up, they typically have to walk somewhere. Set a procedure for how we walk in the hallway. I find it fun to say something such as, “Let’s walk like we are mice!” In other words, let’s walk quietly. I have also used, “Catch a bubble” accompanied by “Catch a bee.” This helps keeps our mouths quiet and our hands to ourselves.

5.       Clean Up!
We all do projects in our classrooms; it’s a perk of the job! What’s not a perk of the job is going through mountains of markers because caps don’t get put back on or going through hours of precious time cleaning up after your littles. Students should know how to put things back. Have a procedure and an organizational plan to make sure students know where everything goes. This may be having pictures of supplies on different containers to show the proper places to put their tools away.

6.       Great Idea!
Sharing ideas (or stories) is a great way to teach students something. Sometimes when we ask for an idea we get a life story along with it. While it’s great to hear about your students’ experiences, there is a correct time and place. Create procedures for the right time and place to share different ideas. In addition to time and place procedures, you’ll also want to have students raise their hands and wait to be called on. Waiting is usually the hardest part of this.

7.       Help!
When learning new ideas, students are going to have questions. Questions are great! They show us so much but they can be, well, annoying if there is no procedure for asking them. If you don’t want students to come up to your desk, you need to set those boundaries right away. I have a question box (not a literal box). I taped a square on my floor and if a student has a question they go stand in the box.

8.       Book it!
Going to the library was the highlight of my week when I was in school. One of the things that really got me going was when one person ruined it for everyone! Setting a procedure for how to act in the library and what you need to do when you’re in the library is very important for you and the librarian.

9.       Toss it!
I have worked in plenty of schools where gum is allowed. With that, I have scraped a lot of gum off of things. Make sure students know where the trash can is located and emphasize they use it. On top of that, make sure they aren’t getting up and throwing stuff away at a distracting time.

10.   Welcome!...Part 2
It’s so much fun to have guests in our classroom. The students can learn from someone else for a little while and it can break up the day or the week a little bit. Make sure students know what to do when a guest enters the room. You can have a class “host” or “hostess” who is designated to greet them. Meanwhile everyone else should be seated or busy doing something else until the guest speaker is ready to begin.

11.   Fire!
Any drill that you may do during the school year whether that is a fire or tornado drill, there is already a procedure you have to follow. Ensuring that students are on the same page and reviewing those drills before an actual drill happens is so important. A fire or tornado drill can disrupt the whole day. If your students know what to do, they are less likely to go crazy when the buzzer goes off.

12.   Freedom!
Free time doesn’t happen often in many rooms because it can often lead to brawls, crying, and who knows what else. Give students things they can do during free time so they aren’t really running wild. You can even tailor the options to go along with whatever you are currently working on. This procedure will keep your teacher hat on and your referee hat in the closet.

13.   See ya!
The day always comes to an end. We are teaching students how to read yes, but we are also teaching them how to be responsible. Make sure students know to clean up their desks and organize everything so they are ready for the next day.

Setting procedures for the classroom will make your school year so much better. While teaching these procedures, remember Rome was not built in a day. Your students will have to practice these procedures in order to perfect them and you may have to adjust them along the way. That’s what learning is all about: practice. 











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