Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Teaching Routines and Procedures

When I first started teaching, I knew there were a few things I was going to have to teach my kids how to do. Like... what to do when they need to use the bathroom, what to do in the morning when they came in, and what to do if their pencil broke. 

I'll never forget my first day in kindergarten when I told my kids, "When I call your name, line up at the door." I started calling names, and my kids started forming a mob at the door. A literal mob. It took me a second, and then I realized that they had NO CLUE what a line was!
Fast forward a few years, and now I know just how many things I need to teach my kids how to do. The list is ENDLESS. Even if I think they might know how to do something, I teach it anyway. I model it, and we practice, and practice, and practice some more.

I've compiled every routine and procedure I could think of into a neat little document for you. Before school starts, download it, go through it, and make sure that you have some way of teaching each thing on the list {during the first few days of school} if it pertains to your classroom.
Here are two of the most important ones and the procedures that I use in my classroom.

1. Lining up
Yes, I figured things out after my first year of teaching. Now I teach my kids how to line up at the door when we need to go somewhere. However, over the years, I've found a few problems with just "lining up."

Problem 1: Everyone wants to be called first. You'd think there was some sort of cash reward for being the line leader. Nope, you just get to wait in line longer than everyone else. Congratulations!

Problem 2: Chatty Cathy and Punchy Peter can't be near each other in line. Let's be real. There are always a few kids who can't be near each other if you want to get going within the next hour. 

Problem 3: Life is over if Friendly Fiona isn't near her "BFF." There's always one kiddo who EVERYONE wants to be next to in line. That poor kid! S/he just wants to wait quietly in line to go to lunch and everyone is pushing and shoving to stand next to him/her for 2.5 minutes!

Problem 4: No-one wants to be last. You call the last person. They refuse to line up. You're not going anywhere today, friends.

So a few years ago, I started using vinyl line up dots. I cut them out with my Silhouette Cameo (I think they're about 1.5" x 1.5") and stick them on the classroom floor. 

I DO NOT number them and here's why. I use classroom numbers for things like book boxes and pencil pouches, and if inevitably I have to move someone's spot in line, it would mess it up if the dots were numbered. So they're not. 

I teach my kids how to walk to the line, stand on their dot, and wait for the rest of the class to line up.
The first spot is always for the line leader. That person changes daily based on who my helper of the day is (I simply go in alphabetical order so everyone gets a pretty equal number of turns). I don't start helper of the day for about the first month of school, so if you happen to be the first person in line until then, you're in luck!!

Speaking of line order, I try to place students in line order based on behavioral observations that my team and I made from our kindergarten screening and visitation. So I will look for someone responsible who I think can handle the responsibility of being the line leader for the first month. This does not mean that our line order will not change. I usually move kiddos around for the first few days until I find something that feels successful, and then for the most part, the line order stays the same unless I reallyyyyyy need to move someone. The only thing that will change is the helper of the day will go to the first dot and their dot will STAY EMPTY. This eliminates the confusion of everyone moving up a dot. Everyone stands on the same spot every day and leaves the helper of the day's dot open. {The same goes if someone is absent}.

And that's all folks! We line up in the same order when coming back from recess and specials too, even though there are no line up dots there, just to keep things consistent! This has seriously been a game changer for me and I highly recommend it!

2. The Bathroom

The bathroom is always a tricky situation because every time someone has their hand up, I think they have a brilliant answer to my question! As it turns out, they either...

1. Want to tell me a story about their hamster

or 2. Need to use the bathroom

More than likely, it's usually the latter. They look so enthusiastic about answering my math problem, and then they're just asking for permission to go to the bathroom. I have a bathroom in my classroom, so it's not a huge deal for them to go. But I hated how it was interrupting our lessons.

So a few years ago, I implemented the use of American sign language into our classroom. Now, when a student has to use the bathroom, they just put their hand in the air and do the bathroom sign (shown below, and you shake your hand back and forth).
They say nothing. And I say nothing. I just nod my head "yes," or shake my head "no." And it's finished. I can keep on teaching and no one even realizes that someone asked to use the bathroom! This has seriously been a life changer for me!

So if you're new to teaching, or not, take some time to sit down and think of what routines and procedures are important to help your classroom run smoothly and when you're going to teach, model, and practice those with your kiddos. The more time you take now, the less you will have to re-teach later!
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