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  • Getting Ready for the Start of School Part II: Why Some Teachers Have Smooth Running Classrooms

Muriel Rand

College/University Professor

Jersey City, NJ

Interests: Classroom management,...

  • Posted 5 Years ago
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Getting Ready for the Start of School Part II: Why Some Teachers Have Smooth Running Classrooms

           I have observed many, many teachers in elementary and early childhood classrooms and the ones that have the smoothest-running classrooms all do the same thing: they teach procedures. Now only do they teach the procedures they need the children to follow, but they also have the children practice and they give them positive feedback until they become automatic routines. They make learning procedures the most important teaching priority in the first few weeks of school, even if it takes time away from other subjects. They more than make up for this time because their classrooms run so effectively.

          So the first step in getting ready is to plan what procedures to focus on. It’s helpful to think about them in three groups based on when you will teach them: The first day of school, the first week of school, and the first six weeks. Here are some suggestions:

  • First Day of School

               Quiet Signal

               Arrival: putting things away and getting started on “do now” work

               Lining Up

               Walking in the Hallway

               Using the Bathroom

               Talking during group lessons

               Dismissal: cleaning up desk and getting materials ready to go home

  • First Week of School

               Fire Drill or Other Emergency Procedures

               Morning Meeting

               Moving from group meeting area to centers and other transitions

               How to sit during group meeting or circle time

               Sharpening pencils, getting a drink

               Using learning centers

               Cleaning up after work time or center time

               What to do when you’re finished early

               How to say nice things to each other

               How to push in chairs

               How to hang up coats (this might have to wait for cold weather)

  • First Six Weeks of School

               Working with a partner

               Taking turns

               Turn-and-Talk or Think-Pair-Share

               Getting help when the teacher is working with a group

               What to do when the teacher has a phone call or must leave the room

               What to do when a visitor enters the classroom

               What to do when someone is hurt

               What to do when you need to calm down

               How to take care of materials

               How to take appropriate breaks

Teaching Procedures

               The Responsive Classroom has a wonderful strategy for teaching procedures called “Interactive Modeling.” This has four distintive elements:

  1. Students learn why the procedure is important
  2. Students observe the model and create a picture in their mind of what it should look like
  3. Students do the noticing in describing what’s happening
  4. Students practice and get immediate feedback.

Here is a video that shows the process of Interactive Modeling in action:

You can also try the “I do, We do, You do” demonstrated in this video:

          Remember that children at all ages – from preschool to high school – need to be taught or reminded of how you want them to behave. Don’t be afraid to teach very minor procedures. It is better to err on the side of teaching too many than too few.          

Please share with us in the comments what procedures you think are most important in your classroom and how you teach them.

This is the second posting in a four-part series on getting ready for the start of school. See Part I here.

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22 Aug 12, 09:55 AM

Thanks for spreading the word about Interactive Modeling. It really is a simple but powerful teaching practice that can help teach all the procedures you listed, as well as other social and academic skills. It keeps children engaged and helps them internalize what they see modeled. It made a huge difference in my classroom when I was teaching, and I've seen it had a similar impact in the classrooms of teachers with whom I work as a Responsive Classroom consultant. In fact, I was so excited about it that I wrote a book about it (pictured in your link to the video above). It provides ideas for when and how to use it and sample interactive modeling lessons to use. Thanks so much for your helpful post!

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