If you’re a first year teacher, you may be wondering “What in the world do I teach during the first week of school?” Here’s the answer: You’re going to want to spend the majority of the time reviewing expectations, routines, and procedures. Your goal for the first week of school is to get students acclimated and comfortable with their new classroom space. You’ll want to focus on modeling and practicing all the important procedures.
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15 Classroom Routines & Procedures to Teach the First Week of School
1. Teach Arrival & Dismissal Procedures
Setting expectations for how students should arrive and leave each day is important for the safety of your students. Here are some things to teach and review the first week of school:
- How will students greet their teacher/classmates each morning?
- Where should they unpack when they come into the classroom?
- Where will they sit?
- What do they do with their homework? If it needs to be turned in, is there a turn-in bin?
- What do they do as soon as they unpack? Will they have morning work?
Run through dismissal as well. When it’s time to start packing up, tell students what they should be doing and where they will go at the end of the day. Consider practicing dismissal routines earlier in the day to ease any worries that students have about where to go. Allowing students to practice these routines helps them to know what to expect at the beginning and end of each school day.
- Where will their supplies go?
- How should the desks and classroom look like before everyone leaves?
- Where will they go at the end of the day?
- What procedures will bus riders versus car riders or walkers follow?
2. Review the Daily Classroom Schedule
Have a schedule of the day visible on your board. Include pictures for students who may need additional support to easily follow along. A schedule helps students know what to expect each day. During the first week of school, you’ll want to explain and model what your day-to-day will look.
- How will students transition from one subject to the next?
- What signals will you use for cleaning up and transitioning? This wireless doorbell is one of my favorite transition tools!
3. Explain Behavior Management & Classroom Expectations
Students walk into your classroom for the first time and will need guidance as to what is expected of them. Introduce your classroom rules or set classroom expectations with your students. Review your behavior management system and how it will be utilized within your classroom. Discuss any reward systems for the entire class or individual students that you will use as well.
- What are the behavior expectations? During whole-group? During independent activities?
- How will behaviors be monitored?
- Will you use a whole-group classroom management tool such as an ‘Unlock the Prize‘?
- Will you use individual classroom management tools such as a Classroom Economy System?
- What are the rewards/consequences?
FREE Reward Coupons
A great classroom management tool that students LOVE & saves teachers from having to refill a treasure chest or treat box each week!
4. What Are the Special Classes?
Discuss any classes that students will visit that aren’t yours. Discuss with students what they can expect and how they are to behave in that class. This is a great way to support the music, art, PE, etc. teachers in your building as well!
- How often will they visit specials?
- Who are their specials teacher(s)?
5. Which Jobs will you have in your Classroom?
Will students have leadership roles in your classroom? Explain the importance of these responsibilities and how they make your classroom run smoothly.
- How will classroom jobs be determined?
- How often will students switch classroom jobs?
- How will you track if students are completing classroom jobs?
Have a visual that shows the job each student in your classroom is assigned. Review it and show how each job is performed. This editable leadership roles resource can help you get this organized! I love using student numbers to easily rotate classroom jobs each quarter.
6. Model How Students Should Line Up
Consider having a line order for students to line up in. This ensures that every student has a spot and is in it. About 5 minutes before you need to leave, have students stop working and begin calling them to line up. Have them push in their chair and line up in their spot without touching anyone else. There’s nothing wrong with spending extra time on this during the first week of school! Model, practice, practice, practice!
7. Practice Hallway Behavior
Now that students are lined up, it’s important to discuss what hallway behavior should look like. Depending on your school, this may be different, but generally, we plan for walking silently in the hallway with our hands by our sides. Model this for your students and have them practice. A quick tour of the school can give you ample time to practice this, as can your bathroom break, walk to lunch, recess, and specials.
- What are behavior expectations in the hallway?
8. Explain Lunch Procedures
If you can, it’s a good idea to practice lunch procedures before lunch. Students will need to know where to line up, how to get their lunch, where to sit, how to clean up their trash, and how to behave in the cafeteria. Set these expectations for students on day one to make lunchtime flow smoothly. Pay attention to any school-specific expectations that students need to adhere to.
You’ll want to have laminated ID cards for students with their lunch numbers printed on them. This will ease a lot of stress before the first day of school.
- How will students enter the cafeteria?
- Where will they sit?
- Do they know their lunch number?
- What are the cafeteria behavior expectations?
- When and where will students dispose of trash?
9. Explain Restroom Procedures
If you have a whole class bathroom break, teach students the expectations for where they will stand, what their voices will sound like, and how many students can go into the bathroom at a time. Also remind students how to wash their hands. An extra reminder never hurts!
Review procedures for bathroom breaks during class time. You might want to use hand signal posters to get avoid bathroom break interruptions during your instructional time.
10. How will Classroom Supplies be Used?
Depending on how you have your classroom supplies organized, your procedures may be different. If you have community supplies show students where each supply is so that they know where to get and return them after use. (Community supplies are supplies that are for the entire classroom to share. They are usually stored somewhere in the classroom for student access.)
- What supplies are community supplies?
- How and when will students access community supplies?
- What is the cleanup process for community supplies?
- What supplies should be stored at students’ desks?
- Where will students keep their journals?
If students have journals for specific subjects, help them get them labeled and ready to go during the first week if school. My editable folder and notebook labels are perfect for this.
11. Explain Procedure for Sharpening Pencils
When you set routines for classroom supplies, it’s also important to think about your procedure for pencils. Pencils inevitably need to be sharpened, so determine at what point during the day students will be allowed to sharpen their pencils. If you don’t have a procedure in place, it’s a good idea! Whether you set time aside first thing in the morning for students to sharpen their pencils or allow one student to sharpen all pencils at the end of each day, it’s important to have a procedure in place to prevent students from interrupting instruction due to broken pencils.
- When are students allowed to sharpen pencils?
- Will you have just one pencil monitor in charge of pencil sharpening?
- Where will dull/sharp pencils be stored?
- Will you have community pencils? (to be shared amongst the entire class)
12. Practice Attention Getters
If you’re using an attention-getter, go ahead and have students start practicing using it! If I wanted students to stop working and look up at me, I may say, “Scooby Scooby Doo!” and students may respond by saying, “Where are you?” The more we practice these attention-getters with our students, the better they become at using and responding to them.
- What is the purpose of an attention getter?
- What should students do once they respond to the attention getter?
13. Review Early Finisher Expectations
There will always be students who finish their work early, but what expectations do you have for them? You’ll want to review what students should do once they are done with an assignment before time is up. Do they have an early finisher folder of activities to work on? Should they pull out their independent reading books? Knowing ahead of time helps students better prepare for what to do when the time arises and prevents the all too common, “I’m done!”. This is a procedure you should teach the first week of school to get your students prepared for the rest of the school year.
FREE Early Finisher Worksheets
These printable, no prep worksheets are perfect for those early finishers in your classroom! Includes ELA and math review activities for 2nd and 3rd grade students.
14. Voice Level Expectations
The first couple of days, your students may still feel shy around you, and that’s okay! This may cause them to be really quiet, but inevitably they will get louder. Using my voice level expectations chart will help students to know if they should be whispering, talking quietly, or talking in a normal voice.
15. Whole Group & Small Group Procedures
Now that most of your procedures have been covered, it’s also important to remember how students should behave and what they should be doing during their whole group time at their desk and on the carpet, and during their small group time with you. As students participate in these areas, walk through the behaviors you are looking for.
Whether you are a first-year teacher or just in need of a refresher, I hope that these tips will help get you get a better understanding of what to teach the first week of school. Remember that you probably will not be teaching much ‘content’ that first week. You want to make sure your students become familiar with routines, procedures, and expectations. Establishing a strong foundation the first week of school will set the tone for the rest of the school year.