Establishing Classroom Procedures
A procedure, as defined by the Oxford American Dictionary, is “a series of actions done or appointed to be done in order to accomplish something, a way of conducting business”.
Society is full of procedures. There are procedures for pouring a bowl of cereal, borrowing a book from the library, riding a ride at an amusement park, baking a cake-- you name it, there’s probably a procedure for it.
A classroom is a type of society. In order for a classroom to run efficiently and effectively, there are a number of procedures with which students must not only become familiar but also put into practice on a daily basis until they become habits. Classroom procedures are to be followed whether the regular classroom teacher is present or absent.
Examples of procedures that can help establish the culture of a classroom are listed below. The examples are from an 8th grade Language Art class. Please note that the images do not necessarily coincide with the procedures; they are visual examples of what some other teachers’ classroom procedures.
Entering the Classroom:
When students approach the classroom door, they lower their voices and enter the classroom quietly and in an orderly fashion - talking and playing stops.
Starting the Class Period:
Students place their books and papers on their desks and check the board to see what they need in order to complete their Bellwork assignment. They go to the back of the room to retrieve their notebook and/or subject folder and ensure that they have the supplies they need prior to returning to their desks. If students need to get tissues, to sharpen pencils or to turn in late work, they do those things before sitting. If students need to ask the teacher a question, they utilize the “Parking Lot”. When students are seated, they copy their homework assignment into their agenda books before beginning their Bellwork assignment.
Exiting the Classroom:
When students hear the bell, they do not leave the room until the regular teacher or substitute teacher says, “You are dismissed.” Students make sure they have their belongings, replace their notebook and/or subject folder, then exit the classroom quietly and in an orderly fashion.
Students Getting the Teacher’s Attention:
In order to alleviate confusion, a number of hand signals that have been designed in order for students to nonverbally communicate to the teacher exactly what they want. The hand signals are as follows:
Teacher Getting the Student’s Attention:
The teacher simply raises her hand when she needs the attention of the class.
Handing in Assessments and Quizzes:
After assessments and quizzes, students make sure that their Bonus Bucks are stapled to the top left-hand corner of the test, ensure that all of the questions have been answered, then place their cover sheets on their tests before passing their tests to the left.
Asking Questions when the Teacher is Explaining Something:
From time to time, when the teacher is explaining an assignment, lesson or activity, students realize that they have questions that need to be answered. Instead of immediately raising their hand or focusing so hard on their question that they miss the rest of the explanation, students write their questions on a sheet of paper. When the teacher concludes the explanation, students look to see if their questions have already been answered. If the questions have not been answered, students raise their hands to get the question taken care of.
Listening to and Responding to Questions during Class Discussions:
Students always listen carefully when someone else is speaking. They give the speaker their undivided attention by keeping their hands free and looking at the speaker. They avoid talking while another person is speaking, and they try not to interrupt the speaker – no matter how long it takes them to “get the question out”. Before answering the question, students summarize what the speaker asked in order to ensure that they have a full understanding of the question. After carefully thinking about their response, students give their answers.
When Students are Tardy:
Students arrive after instruction is underway quietly report to their desk and copy their homework assignment in their agenda book. Then they join in the class activity. Students speak with the teacher after class in order to receive any work completed before their arrival.
When Students are Absent:
Each day, a list of completed assignments is posted on two calendars on the back wall. Upon returning to school, it is the responsibility of the student to check the calendars, then complete and hand in the assignments that were missed. Students are responsible for making an appointment with the teacher in order to have the work explained and to find out if there is any additional work. All work is due the next school day.
Making-up or Re-taking an Assessment:
If students are absent on the day of an assessment, students need to schedule a make-up assessment appointment with the teacher. If students fail an assessment, they may re-take the assessment, and they need to schedule an appointment with the teacher. To schedule an appointment, students write a note on the Parking Lot, including their name, the assessment they need to make-up/ re-take, along with the day, date and time students would like to make-up/re-take that assessment. (For example: Mrs. Smith, I would like to come in at 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, Friday, October 17, to re-take the Checkouts Test in Language Arts. Michael Johnson)
When there is a Visitor or Guest:
If a visitor walks in the classroom, has a seat in the class or is in the room when students arrive, students are to be on their best behavior. They do not entertain the individual or speak to him/her, unless instructed to do so.
What to Do after Students have Completed Their Assignment:
If students have completed the work that they were assigned, they double-check their work for errors. After doing so, students complete any other assignments that are outstanding. If students have completed all of the assignments and there is absolutely nothing else for them to do, they consult the “Things to Do When You’re Done” Chart.
Developing class procedures can be time consuming, but the end result is well worth the time invested. It is crucial to note that a teacher must do more than draft classroom procedures and go over them with the class at the beginning of the school year; they must be revisited throughout the year. Class procedure are to be posted somewhere in the room where all students can clearly see them. In addition to that, students must be given the opportunity not only to practice each of the procedures but also to demonstrate their knowledge of and familiarity with the procedures by taking an assessment. Finally, it is a great idea to get parents involved by drafting a document similar to the one below, that details class procedures and allows for both students and their parents to sign, acknowledging their intention to follow each procedure to the best of their abilities.
Additional Resources for Classroom Procedures:
Cherrietgee (author) from Illinois on March 15, 2012:
Natashalh, I'm so glad this was useful to you. They really saved during my first few years of teaching.
Natasha from Hawaii on March 14, 2012:
Thanks for the useful information. I'm currently in grad school for education, so I'm sure this will be useful in my classes now and in my classroom in the future! Voted useful and up.