Procedures, procedures, procedures! As new teachers, we hear this word repeated over and over.
“Make sure you have procedures ready to go for day 1!”
“What are your procedures for recess, lunch, Mass, lining up, transitioning to the carpet, transitioning to the desks, rotating between centers, turning assignments in, walking through the hallway, packing up at the end of the day, cleaning up at the end of the week?”
There are procedures for everything! As I developed my classroom management plan my first ACE summer, I was regularly scratching my head and thinking, “You’re telling me that 9-year-olds don’t know how to get into a single file line or walk in the hallway?” Yes. This can become a situation!
Sure, students know how to stand in line and do other basic classroom procedures. However, it quickly became clear that the way they did them varied. The way Esteban stood in line was different than how Nevaeh writes her name on her work, which was different from how Sofia cleaned her desk, which was different than how Josue turned in his assignments. While Josue may boogie his way to turn in his paper or Nevaeh may write her name in bubble letters, the key was they all met the classroom expectations. Josue turned in his work and Nevaeh had her name and date on each assignment. These 21 individuals were able to maintain their identities while working within the classroom community. With procedures in place, all members of our community were able to be successful.
Students seek consistency. When students and teachers are able to settle into a routine and follow a schedule, it eliminates any doubt or uncertainty as to what comes next or what is expected. This need to remain on a schedule and the need for consistency became clear to me one morning meeting when Elisea quickly shared, “You know Ms. Doyle, today is Wednesday, which means we should actually be doing our reading rotations today. I have my word work to complete!” While I came into this specific Wednesday excited about a “What’s Up Wednesday” lesson, I was quickly reminded that sticking to our procedures brought great comfort to my students and helped prepare them for learning each day.
As the single adult in a room of 21 students, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the needs of each student. A lot of situations may arise, and it is easy to feel like you are being pulled in different directions every day trying to meet those needs. By establishing procedures early and practicing them often in the year, students and teachers form habits and routines that give all academic, emotional, and spiritual needs the chance to be met. Procedures ensure all students feel safe and secure in knowing what is expected of them. When students know what to expect from the teacher and what is expected of themselves, they then have the time and space to grow as individuals. They have the flexibility within the classroom community to be themselves and be their best.
The 21 pairs of big, round, smiling eyes in a circle the first day of school belonged to 21 individuals. Each student had different social, emotional, and academic needs. As their teacher, it was never my job to change who they were, but rather develop a classroom community that allowed them to become the best version of themselves. By establishing clear, consistent procedures in our classroom, each child knows what is expected of them and how to work cooperatively as a community member. By working together in this safe, structured environment, we can accomplish great things!
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