You've just been hired for a new teaching job and can’t wait to start your career. Congratulations! Now what? Or maybe you've been teaching for a few years with mixed evaluations and feedback from administrators. I know how difficult and overwhelming it can be figuring out how to prepare and plan for a new year.
You want to do ALL the things, but it can be hard deciding where to begin. I’m sharing five must-teach middle school classroom routines and systems to ensure you and your students have a successful school year.
The best place to start is by envisioning your perfect classroom and asking yourself some important questions. What does your teaching flow look like? How does a learner participate and behave? What routines will help keep your classroom running smoothly?
1. Entry to Class
While entering class may seem like a no-brainer, trust me when I say you’ll need to teach students the correct behavior and clearly outline the tasks they should complete as part of that routine. My students lined up outside the classroom before the bell which made it easy for me to greet them as they entered. I displayed Daily Agenda Slides to direct them once they were in the room. My bell ringer was most often standards-based giving students time to practice daily skills. Read more about the bell ringers I used in my classroom here.
2. Student Learning and Participation
I always taught students the appropriate ways to participate in the lesson. We practiced asking questions, clarifying what they heard, and contributing to the discussion. I taught them to begin their question with a statement of clarification. It might be something like this: So what you're saying, Mrs. Castillo, is that the main character acted out because they wanted attention, right? or Mrs. Castillo, you're saying we should highlight the heading of each chapter on the worksheet, right? I know from the student's question that they were listening and can then confirm or redirect the clarification. This strategy eliminates the What did you say? What do I do? empty responses and holds the learner accountable. It’s important to develop a safe learning environment so all students feel comfortable taking risks and asking for help. Other routines to consider in this category include attention signals you'll use and transitions from one activity to the next.
3. Movement in the Classroom
Students also need to understand when they can move around in your room and leave their assigned seat. Don’t assume they know what is appropriate. You should establish firm guidelines, remain consistent, and decide ahead of time when students are allowed to get out of their seat. You don't want them moving around during your instruction, so set up procedures and signals for when they can sharpen a pencil, get additional supplies, grab a tissue, or work in centers or groups.
4. Leaving the Classroom
Bathroom permission can be tricky, especially in middle school. This routine may be one of the most important ones you teach your students. Set up a system that allows them to signal discreetly when they have an emergency or need to leave for the restroom. My students used a "fingers crossed" sign to alert me of a bathroom emergency. For usual bathroom requests, students signed out and took a hall pass. You'll want to have some form of documentation and a pass that coordinates with your campus expectations for regular restroom use.
5. Ending the Period
Your administrator expects you to teach bell to bell, so having an end-of-class routine is critical. I never let the bell dismiss my students; instead, they knew we had a specific set of tasks to complete before finishing up. I personally dismissed students from their seats at the end of the period after I had them clean up their work space, put away devices, and show me what they learned in the form of a quick exit ticket.
Get Help: Classroom Systems Self-Paced Video Course
Ready to get started? Sign up now for a self-paced video course to help you successfully set up your classroom systems and routines. You’ll get a FREE student information page, parent contact log, and back-to-school checklist, too!
Look for part two of this post where I write about important organizational systems you should put into place.
⬇️ Click below to share this post with a teacher friend who needs to get systems and routines in place for the new school year.