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5 Key Strategies to Setting Up Classroom Procedures As a First Year Teacher

Setting up classroom procedures as first year teacher can be difficult. Here are 5 strategies to implement this week to have your classroom run so smoothly, it's like you don't even have to be there.

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Setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher can be exhausting. You’re trying all the advice your coworkers are giving you. Even trying new strategies you found online. But no matter how many new things you try, your students are still relying on you for everything, and they are never moving around the classroom as you would like them to. 

As a first year teacher, you may be feeling overwhelmed with how to best manage your classroom. Establishing procedures and expectations that are clear, consistent, and easy to follow can help create a positive learning environment for all students. This guide will provide tips and techniques on how setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher can have your classroom running smoothly without you.

Yes you heard me! So let’s grab that cup of coffee and get this classroom running like the classroom of your dreams!

Listen to the podcast:

[su_spoiler title=”5 Strategies to Setting Up Classroom Procedures as a First Year Teacher” style=”fancy”]Helena (00:00): Have you ever felt like you’ve tried everything but your students are still relying on you for everything? It feels like your classroom’s just not running how it’s supposed to and your students aren’t following the rules. If you feel this way, I wanna let you know you’re not alone. My student, Amanda, felt just like you. But what if I told you, if you could have the classroom where your procedures were so clear and defined that your students ran the classroom by themselves and you didn’t even have to say a word, I know you can do this because I helped my student, Amanda and other teachers around the world do the same. And that’s what we’re gonna cover in today’s episode. So make sure to stick around. You won’t wanna miss this. Hey teacher bestie. My name’s Helena and I’m the creator of the President Teacher podcast. I’m a first year teacher coach and in this podcast you are gonna learn everything from simple actual classroom management, social emotional learning, and teacher wellness strategies. You know that impact you wanna make in the classroom. We’re gonna make it happen here. (01:02) Step one to building procedures is actually building relationships within your classroom. I’ll never forget when someone told me a student won’t learn from a teacher they don’t like. And this couldn’t be any more true today. You see, building relationships is important because you need to get your students to know, like, and trust you so they learn from you and it’s also important that they learn to work and build relationships with each other. So how do we accomplish this? You’ve probably heard people say build relationships in the classroom, but you might be asking yourself, but what does that mean? What does that look like? So I’m gonna tell you right here, right now, the first thing you gotta do is model, model, model, model, model. What does positive behavior look like? What does lining up or sitting at the classroom look like? Model what this looks like and doesn’t look like. (01:53) What does it sound like and what does it not sound like? And you need to model what positive relationships look like. What do good friends do for each other? What do they not do? Take some time in your classroom and go over what do good friends do for each other? Do they share? Do they not share? What does that look like? What does that sound like? What about conflict? Conflict resolution? How can you make things a win-win when you come to a conflict with another teacher or with an adult? Also, you wanna model what building a relationship looks like. Students learn best by watching you. They will mimic you. And if you are actively incorporating these into your classroom, your kids will pick up on them and they’ll start actually conflict solutioning or solving problems the same way you do in the class. So maybe you can show them what asking someone to play with me looks like being nice when someone isn’t having a good day. (02:53) All of these you can show by modeling, but you can also model to your kids what that’s gonna look like. The next thing is icebreakers. You can build relationships within your class by actively participating in icebreakers. And I don’t mean just for your students, I mean for teachers too. I love to do icebreakers with my kids because, well, number one, it incorporates join my day, but two, okay, I’m a little competitive. Three is good because it helps me build relationships with my kids. So icebreakers are a great way to build relationships from student to teacher, from end student to student as well. The next thing is check-ins. Do a daily check-in with each other. And as a class, how are we doing? How is the individual doing and what can we work on? (03:44) You also wanna build a positive classroom community and talk about what does that look like? What does that sound like? What can, what are the expectations for students to do in order to create that? And what can you as a teacher do to make sure that you are creating a environment where students and teachers feel heard, seen, liked, and trusted and validated. So step number two to creating procedures is to actually have clear expectations. Once the relationship is there and you have that solid, solid between the teacher to student and the student to student, students will want to make you proud. It’s our job to show them how they can make us feel proud. Let’s talk about what it looks like. Sounds like in the classroom. Use a visual model and do right from wrong. So this is literally how I do a procedure. I will talk about a procedure or an expectation I have in class like raising our hand or responding to a class call. (04:49) Then I will make a visual, I will model it and then we can make a visual model and we can talk about what I did right, what I did wrong, what did it sound like, what did it not sound like? What did it look like? What did it not look like? And during this process, I typically have a very deep conversation with my kids about how there’s a such thing as making a wrong choice, but there’s no such thing as a bad kid. And that’s really important. And I preach this in my class that I will love you whether you make a good choice. I will love you whether you make a bad choice or a mistake, that does not change for me. But once you have that strong relationship with your students and they have it with each other, they’ll want to make each other happy, they’ll want to make each other proud. (05:38) So make sure you’re modeling what expectations are clearly to your class. That way they can make you proud because honestly, that’s what kids want. They want to thrive. They’re not doing it as a personal attack. Step number three is to have clear outcomes and consequences. So okay, we made a mistake, but what happens when they don’t follow the expectations? Well, I’m here to tell you that natural consequences are going to be your best consequence or the best thing you can hope for. When it comes to not following expectations, natural is always best. I highly, highly recommend you keep all behavior in your classroom when possible. However, there are some severe behaviors that if you do it in my class, it’s an immediate out, I don’t tolerate it at all. And that’s throwing something and then putting hands on another person, those two things will immediately get you outta my classroom. (06:40) Everything else with exceptions, I’m gonna as asterisk that times five, I try to solve everything else in my classroom. So let’s talk about consequences. So let’s say that so and so, um, made a mess while picking, you know, while doing an activity and there’s a mess all over the floor. Well, the natural consequence would be to pull that student aside and to ask them to pick it up. That’s just the natural consequence and that’s what I try to do in my class. But you wanna think about what is the latter of outcomes that happens when a student makes a mistake or purposefully makes a wrong choice. So the first time, what happens then the second time, then what? Third time then what? Fourth time, then what, I’ll give you an example of mine. The first time I like to, it depends on what it is. (07:37) Sometimes I can tell the kids aren’t sure or they made a mistake and or they’re doing it on purpose the first time. Maybe you try to ignore it. Maybe it’s something that isn’t that major. So you just move on and you ignore the behavior so it doesn’t become something the second time. Maybe you give a non-verbal cue The third time, maybe you wanna remind them ex of the expectation or maybe even better yet, the third time, instead of bringing attention to that student who made the mistake, you point out another student as an example. So for example, I love how so-and-so is sitting crisscross applesauce, apples in their basket eyes up here, tracking the speaker with still hands, that is showing the other kids that you are giving praise to those that are following your expectations. Maybe then the fourth time you give a non-verbal cue, the fifth time, maybe you pull that student on the sideline and you have a one-on-one conference with them and talk about their consequence. (08:38) Either way, having this all planned out beforehand is really gonna help you. And then at what point is it a behavior plan deciding for you how many steps, how many warnings you’re gonna give your kids is really important. And then staying consistent across the board is really gonna help you. Step number four is helping your kids have responsibility through self-management. Students that are responsible for their own learning really thrive. And in our classrooms we really wanna make sure that they’re being responsible for their behavior and they have time to self-reflect. So there’s a couple different ways you can do this. You can have independent behavior trackers, you can have super improver walls, maybe you have a classroom behavior tracker. So for example, I talked about an independent behavior tracker that could be like a super improver wall. That’s what I use. And so students get a sticker and they level up each time they do a positive thing or I, you know, I celebrate them in class for following my expectations or the class’s expectation. (09:49) Maybe for a classroom behavior you do beat the teacher and if they have more green than red tallies, however many green tallies is they have is how many minutes they get to leave early or how many minutes of free time they get at the end of the day. Either way, having a way for students and the class to be accountable of their own behavior is super important. The next step is to develop routines and proce procedures. Like I said, you’re going to want to model these and most of all, you want the class to help come up with these routines and procedures. Now here is by far, I admittedly say the biggest mistake I made for several years. And the other biggest mistake I see first year teachers make when it comes to procedures is they create the procedures around the space. You do not want to do that. (10:48) I repeat. You do not want to do that. You wanna create the space that supports your procedures. So let me explain. So, or kind of expand on this. When I first started teaching, I was so excited to set up my classroom that I would buy all this decor and I would set up my classroom to be super cute. But then by the time it came down to the flow of my classroom from students, from getting point A to point B, turning in papers, I hadn’t thought that through. So then when the first day came or even the first month came, it was a struggle where instead if you focus on how you want the flow of your classroom to be first and then decorating the space, it’s really going to help you think about, okay, where do I want students to go when they’re done? (11:45) Where do I want my students to grab their materials? Those are all things you wanna think of first before you set up up your classroom. Now if you already set up your classroom, it’s not too late, take notes down. But this is a huge mistake I’ve made and other teachers have made too and I have. So again, don’t create procedures around the space. Create the space that support your procedures. And I do have a checklist actually that I created with every single procedure that I teach in a school year. And it’s a checklist and I revisit it every year. I revamp it, I talk about, you know, where I have it in my space, in my classroom, how it ran, and then I revisit the same checklist every single year when it’s back to school and then I revamp it if I need to. What I love about this is it’s also a great way to refer back to the procedures I’ve gone over already in class. (12:46) So when Christmas break or winter break comes around or after spring break and I notice my kids need to kind of review what we’ve learned in class and our procedures, I can go through this checklist and review it. So it’s already there and it’s already created. And when I teach every year, it’s already set up ready to go and I love it is such a time saver. So if you wanna download this, check out the show notes, I’ll make sure to put it there. You can have it, keep it, share it with your friends because man, I wish I did this like my first year seriously. But anyways, in that checklist you’re gonna see a lot of different procedures I set up in my classroom and I think through. But here are some that you can think of right now as you’re listing in the car or when you’re walking your dog, whatever you’re doing, here are some procedures you should be thinking about and have already covered in class. (13:42) And if you haven’t, don’t worry. I definitely did not cover all these the first couple of years and then I wondered why my kids were having a hard time or I covered it for a day and then I never revisited it. So here are some examples. First thing, pencils. How do you want your kids to get your pencils? Second thing, bathroom. What’s the bathroom procedure? Turning in work. I have a Ms. Hayes I Nu Box lining up. Are they in line order? Do they just go? Do you have music that dismisses them walking in line? What does it look like? Sound like transitions look like, sound like. Um, do you use different songs? Which songs mean what? Will you change those songs, class calls? What’s the expectation after you do a class call? Morning jobs. What happens when they come in the morning? Do they just come in and put their backpack and sit down? (14:27) What are they expected to do? Packing up at the end of the day stations. These are just some examples that I came off up with. But like I said, there’s a lot of procedures and if you didn’t cover one, that’s okay. It is not too late. I come up with procedures in the middle of the year all the time when I feel like we need to. So make sure to grab that, that freebie cuz you can grab all these and more. Thank you so much for joining me and I am so excited because you are now. Once you incorporate all these, the Queen of Procedures teacher Vesty, I would love if you could DM me your favorite part of today’s episode. Remember that we are stronger together and I will see you in the next episode. Love the present teacher. A k a. Hold on. (15:19) Thank you so much for joining me on today’s episode. I hope that you were able to take away some value that will help you thrive inside and outta the classroom. It would mean the world to me. If you could take five seconds right now and leave a review on this podcast. And if you found this podcast especially helpful, make sure to take a screenshot of this episode right now and tag me on your socials. Let me know you’re listening. As always, remember that we are stronger together with all the love in the world. Helena a k a, the present teacher. See you next time. Teacher bestie. [/su_spoiler]

Related Links:

Establish a Positive Classroom Environment- AKA Relationships 

The first step to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher is to establish a positive class environment. You might be surprised to hear that you actually achieve this by establishing positive classroom relationships! When your students have a good relationship with you and each other they are more likely to follow along and even be leaders in following those classroom procedures you have set. 

A positive classroom environment is essential for student success. Start by defining and communicating your expectations for student behavior. Encourage a sense of community in the classroom by introducing icebreaker activities and regularly checking in with students to build relationships. I personally love to do love calls, greet my students at the door, and love notes. 

Acknowledge students’ efforts and recognize that all students have unique strengths and weaknesses. Focus on building those positive relationships with your students and you will be on your way to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher. 

Set Clear Expectations for Students 

The second step to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher is to establish expectations for your students. Students thrive best when they know what’s expected of them. 90% of the time students want to make their teachers happy once that relationship is built. It is your job to model what that looks like and sounds like.

One way to do this is to establish firm but fair expectations for student conduct. Make sure that your rules are clear and understandable, so students will understand the reasons behind them. 

For example, you can set a rule that all students must raise their hand and be acknowledged to answer or ask a question. Post your classroom rules in an easy-to-see location and review them on a regular basis to help students remember them and hold each other accountable for following rules. Make sure to model what it sounds like and looks like when this procedure is done correctly.

All of these tips are a great way to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher. If you want help with this, check out my Ultimate Procedures Checklist that walks you through step by step what procedures you should be incorporating in the classroom.

Enforce Rules & Consequences

The third way to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher is to make sure to have clear rules and consequences when students do not follow your expectations and procedures.

As I mentioned before, students thrive the most when they know what is expected of them. 

This is also true when it comes to their consequences. If students know you are not going to give them a consequence for their action, then they are going to continue to do the unwanted behavior.

 Teaching students to follow rules is essential in maintaining an orderly classroom. In order to ensure that students understand the consequences for breaking rules, communicate your expectations from the start and make sure that all students are aware of the possible punishments for their actions. Each infraction should result in a consequence and be applied fairly, meaning the same consequence for each student who breaks a rule. Establish consistent outcomes – it will help you to maintain structure and provide consistency for all learners.

An example of what this could look like is:

  • 1st consequence- nonverbal warning
  • 2nd consequence- private verbal warning
  • 3rd consequence- think sheet
  • 4th consequence- note home

All of these ideas are a great way to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher.

Teach Responsibility Through Self-Management Techniques 

The fourth strategy to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher is to teach your students responsibility for their learning. 

Encouraging students to take charge of their learning can be challenging, but is an important step in developing self-management skills. Create a behavior chart that allows students to track their own progress and set classroom goals. I personally don’t believe in clip charts, but I prefer to provide a super improver wall. Which you can check out here. 

You can also provide incentives, such as earning extra playtime or treats, when they meet those goals. I personally like to play beat the teacher for a couple minutes of “free time” at the end of the day. Make sure that all students are involved in the process and are aware of the consequences if they fail to meet expectations.

These are great examples on how you can start setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher. 

Develop Routines & Procedures

The final step to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher is to actually develop the routines and procedures. Ideally you want to do this before you even set up your classroom, but it’s never too late to incorporate new procedures.

Ask yourself:

  • How do I want my classroom to flow?
  • Where should students go if they need to find x, y, or z?
  • What centers do I need to set up in order for students to be successful?

By setting up your classroom to support your routines, you are ensuring your day runs smoothly and thought out. Routines help to provide consistency and structure, making it easier for students to know what is expected of them. This can include the timing of when the class should enter and exit the room, the materials they will need for lessons, and any other procedures necessary for smooth classroom management. Make sure that all students understand each routine thoroughly before proceeding with instruction.

And as always make sure to model what it looks like and sounds like for each routine with your students. All of these strategies are a great way to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher.

Overview

Overall, there are 5 different strategies to setting up classroom procedures in the classroom as a first year teacher. This includes:

  • Establishing a Positive Classroom Environment- AKA Relationships 
  • Setting Clear Expectations for Students 
  • Enforce Rules & Consequences
  • Teach Responsibility Through Self-Management Techniques 
  • Develop Routines & Procedures

All of these strategies are great ways to setting up classroom procedures as a first year teacher. If you need a routine on how to introduce a new strategy and what procedures you should incorporate download The Ultimate Procedures Guide where I provide you a list of the top procedures every classroom should incorporate as well as a video companion walking you through how I introduce a new routine.

What procedures are you incorporating this week? I would love to know!