How to Teach Classroom Procedures

Starting a new school year is never easy. Besides all the bulletin boards to put up, the copies to be made and the plans to be created, you will have a brand new group of newbies to train…that’s right..train. Think of yourself as a drill sergeant with lipstick, and this is boot camp!

I can tell you that teaching procedures is one of THE most crucial things that you need to do in the first few days and weeks of school. It is the training wheels for the bike riding sessions to come.

Want a well-run classroom? We all do…but you have to put in the effort on the front end before nasty little student habits develop.

So having said how important procedures are, how exactly do you teach them? Here are five ways I teach them in my classroom:

1. Starting on the first day of school, we go over lots of procedures.

After modeling/explaining them to the kids, I like to have the kids actually show them to me. For example, right after the dreaded morning bell rings (I always need more time in the morning) I stand at the door and greet kids as they come in.

Then, they walk about two steps and put up their cards for the lunch count. Not only does it tell me whether they are buying a lunch or not, but it also shows me who is absent (their card is not put up).

So, to practice, I have the kids go back outside and line up (another procedure). Then, they walk back into the classroom quietly (another procedure) and put up their lunch card before sitting down.

2. A second way I like to practice procedures is to have students play games.

I may start with asking questions and doing thumbs up or thumbs down (Can you get a drink during a lesson?…Should you use the loud electronic pencil sharpener that makes Miss Larson’s hair stand on end during the school day?…Lord, no!).

Another game I like to play is called Stump the Experts. First, kids take out their whiteboards, and I choose five kids to get chairs and sit facing the class with their whiteboards and expo markers. Then I go to the back of the class so I can see the expert’s answers.

After I give a situation (What would you do if you were stuck on a math problem but the teacher was working with someone else?) and the kids (all of them including the experts) briefly write down their answers but don’t show them to anybody yet…Gotta watch those little cheaters!

After a minute or two, I ask the experts only to turn their boards around and show me what they’ve written. If they are right, they can still be an expert. If they are wrong, I ask the rest of the class to show me their boards, and I choose a child with a correct answer to become the new expert and take that person’s place. This game is a great review for procedures as well as any subject really. and the kids enjoy it.


Back To School Procedures Game and Posters

Back to School Procedures Game and Posters

3. This year, I am super excited because I created a Classroom Procedures Board Game to use with my kids.

It has lots of everyday scenarios and asks them what they would do in a variety of situations, like…What would you do if your teacher was presenting a lesson and you had to use the restroom?…or There are five minutes before school is out. What do you do?…or You left your lunch in the classroom, and the door is unlocked, but your teacher is not there. What would you do?…

Really makes kids think through real-life situations. I also use Back to School Procedures Task Cards, which are similar, and the kids really enjoy playing a game of Scoot or walking around the room in pairs with clipboards to solve the scenarios listed.

4. Small groups are always one of the things I like to incorporate into my bag of teaching tricks.

For this activity, you can have procedure categories on pieces of paper (like pencils, drinks, recess…) and assign a category to each group. That group can create a poem, a skit, a poster, or something to share with the rest of the class that illustrates how we want to act in our classroom.

I actually like to use posters that I created for using with procedures and either hand them out or hang them in the room to highlight that type of procedure every week or so throughout the year to get those kiddies into shape.

5. Lastly, I just use… repetition, repetition, repetition… Need I say more? Keep reminding the kids of what you expect and hold them to those standards.

No matter how beautiful your classroom is or how well you can teach what you teach if you don’t have strong and clear procedures in place, your classroom will be like an aquarium of hungry sharks, and you are the tuna. Before it comes to that, figure out what you need to have the kids do to make your life happy as a teacher and then teach them to do that, over and over and over and over and….

If you are looking for more Back to School resources and some fresh and new activities, I have created a Back to School Unit for 3rd – 5th grades that includes both print AND digital formats! These are low or NO PREP for the busy teacher!

Here is one of the 32 procedures task cards included in the Back to School Unit.

Click here to take a look at the Back to School print and digital unit.

Back to School Activities for 3rd - 5th Grades

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