Routines and Procedures for Every Teacher
We all know how important it is to establish routines and procedures with our students. It helps create predictability, order, and peace in your classroom.
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But - have you ever thought about setting your own routines and procedures as the teacher? Even adults need to have a set of guidelines that they refer to throughout their day to be productive and successful. I love knowing that I have a checklist waiting for me in the morning to help me know how to start my work day. I don’t waste time getting started and I know how to complete each task because I’ve followed the same process before. I know the steps to get it all done because I’ve created daily, weekly, and monthly routines as well as specific procedures to complete my checklist!
I’d like to share with your some teacher routines and procedures that you might consider setting up for yourself to help you to be more successful in the classroom. And - just to make sure we’re on the same page, when I say “routine” I’m referring to WHAT tasks need to be done and when I say “procedure” I’m referring to HOW the routine task will be done.
Are we good? Let’s dive in:
Teacher Morning routines
Let’s first talk about your morning routine. When you arrive at school, do you know exactly what you need to do before students arrive? Checking off the same tasks every day (literally or mentally) in the same order helps you to start the day on the right foot. It’s amazing how creating and following a very specific routine can be so freeing. You’ll find that you forget less when you do things exactly the same way every day (no more running to the copy room to make copies of that one sheet you forgot about!). We are designed to be creatures of habit. Routines eventually run on auto-pilot and free up space in our minds.
Consider these tasks to help you streamline your morning routine:
check your mailbox in the office (or wherever your mailboxes are housed)
check any messages on your school phone from parents
check email (although I might suggest to include this in your afternoon routine, if possible, so that you don’t get sucked into a rabbit hole!)
pass out morning/bell work to students desks, if needed
set your classroom schedule display for the day if you have one
reset behavior charts (for example, if you have a class clip chart where all students start on “Ready to Learn,” be sure to return all students to that spot.)
review daily plans and make sure you have all copies, handouts, materials ready to go (this should also be done as part of your afternoon routine in preparation for the next day)
Teacher routines for Lunch & planning periods:
You don’t want to spend your entire lunch period at the copy machine, so make sure you have clear expectations about what tasks you’ll complete during your lunch and planning periods. Ideally during lunch you’ll…eat lunch! (What a novel idea!) And, when you start to get clear about your routines for other times during the day, hopefully you’ll find that you can do just that more and more.
Since planning periods are typically too short to really accomplish anything major, make sure you’re realistic about what you can get done. I liked to use my planning periods for miscellaneous tasks that are not crucial to the success of that specific day.
During your planning period you might complete the following routines:
check and respond to emails
prep your materials and supplies that you’ll use during the rest of the day
grade a set amount of papers
make quick phone calls
straighten up your desk and classroom areas
TEACHER AFTERNOON ROUTINES
It’s the end of the day. You’re exhausted and just ready to go home. You’re tempted to just leave it all and head for the door telling yourself, “I’ll deal with it in the morning.” The temptation is real! But guess what? Morning is gonna come and your morning-self is going to be annoyed that your afternoon-self didn’t clean off your desk or making those copies for today. So, in effort to keep your morning-self happy with your afternoon-self, consider adding these rituals to your afternoon routine:
clean your off your teacher desk (put papers away, pencils and pencils back in the drawer or cup holder, file away any papers…etc)
check and respond to email
make needed phone calls
make copies (this will prevent you from having to stand in line in the morning or during your prep period. You may even choose to make copies for an entire week at a time in order to avoid daily copying)
gather all materials and supplies needed for next-day activities - you may want to have tubs or baskets were you can easily grab and go for each activity!
organize and put away any loose materials, stray crayons/markers, or anything else left behind from the day’s activities
touch-base with any teachers or administrators as needed
grade daily papers as needed
As you plan for your morning and afternoon routines, you may choose to give each day a theme. You might find that you don’t need to do every routine every day. For example, perhaps on Monday afternoons you spend time grading so you don’t have to do it every day or on Friday afternoons you make all of your copies for the following week. Or maybe you’ll send out a parents weekly email on Wednesday mornings. By batching certain tasks, you’ll spend less time shifting your mind from task to task.
One of the ways that you make your routines successful is by giving each routine a specific time frame. This will help you stay on course for completing each task. For example, tell yourself that you will only allow yourself 10-15 minutes to check email so that you don’t end up blowing your entire morning just on weeding through your inbox. Set a timer if needed to keep yourself accountable.
Once you’ve outlined the routines that you need to complete in the morning and afternoon, be sure you develop clear procedures for how to get them done! Make sure you know exactly how you want something done so that it’s done right each time!
Here are some tasks that you’ll need to develop procedures for:
procedures for organize and store student handouts (ex. Will you use baskets or file folders to organize daily papers?)
procedures for passing back student work (How will you pass back work? Will you have a student pass back work? Will you use student mailboxes? How often will you pass back work…etc)
procedures for connecting and communicating with parents (Do you need to connect daily, weekly, monthly? Do you use a special app such as the “Remind” app? Will you send out emails or newsletters?)
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procedures for grading papers (How often will you grade? Which assignments will get a formal grade?)
procedures for planning (How much curriculum will you plan for at a time? Will you plan for one subject at a time or plan all subjects week by week? How will you create your plans - digital or use a paper planner? Who, if anyone, will you plan with?)
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procedures for completing and filing away important paperwork (IEPS, behavioral contacts etc…)
procedures for collecting and storing student data
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You may find that initially setting up your routines and procedures can be tedious and require a lot of mental energy. Of course, this is true for anything new, however, I think you’ll find that once in place, your established routines and procedures will create peace, order, and confidence in your everyday teaching!