15 Must-Do Classroom Routines and Procedures: Best Practices

Every good teacher knows the importance of classroom routines and procedures.

It can be overwhelming, however, when thinking about where to start.

This post outlines the most effective classroom procedures and routines that help teachers run their classrooms smoothly.

Teach these routines and procedures in elementary, middle, or high school classrooms.

Doing so will make your classroom management goals a success!

Related: classroom routines and procedures checklist

Classroom Routines and Procedures

This checklist provides examples of the best classroom routines and procedures to review with students during the first few weeks of school.

1. Assign Classroom Jobs.

Though the teacher is the manager of the classroom, her job becomes easier when every student lends a hand in keeping the classroom running smoothly.

This is done by assigning classroom jobs.

Not only does giving classroom jobs to students take some of the burden off the teacher, it provides students with a sense of purpose plus builds community.

You may even want students to apply for a specific classroom job so that they stay interested and committed to the role.

See list of classroom jobs for students.

2. Establish Bathroom Procedure.

Bathroom issues can quickly escalate if not given proper attention early in the school year.

So make sure students understand the expectations for bathroom use.

3. Incorporate Bell Work.

Classroom management starts before students arrive to class.

So be ready the moment they walk through the door by having bell work, also known as bell ringers, ready.

Bell ringers are short activities that focus students and transition them into learning mode immediately upon arrival to class.

They maximize learning while reducing distractions and disruptions.

This time also allows the teacher to take attendance and to complete other administrative tasks.

Here are some great bell ringers you can try.

4. Utilize Attention Getters.

When it’s time for students to transition to a new task or activity, use attention getters.

Attention getters are verbal or non-verbal cues that signal to students that they need to stop and pay attention to the instructions that are about to follow.

They reduce waste time and maximize learning time.

Attention getters are an essential part of any good classroom management plan no matter what grade you teach.

See 101 awesome attention getters.

5. Explain Early Finisher Activities.

There’s always that one student (or handful of students) who finish their work quickly and then ask, “What do I do now?!”.

Avoid this scenario by implementing early finisher activities.

Early finisher activities, also known as fast-finisher activities, are extension exercises that students work on after they have completed the core work that they’ve been assigned in class.

This ensures that every minute in class is focused on learning.

If you need ideas for fast-finishers, take a look at these engaging early finisher activities.

6. Use Hand Signals.

Hand signals are incredibly effective because they grab someone’s attention with minimal noise and distraction.

There are a variety of hand signals for classroom use.

Two of the most common are signals for water and bathroom.

classroom routines and procedures
classroom routines and procedures

Get access to 30+ editable hand signal posters (in addition to 600+ printables right at your fingerprints) in our teacher membership.

7. Practice Lining Up.

If you teach elementary, you definitely want to add this item to your checklist of classroom routines and procedures.

Whether going or coming from recess, the cafeteria, an assembly, or the library, lining up is a task students will perform frequently.

And it can quickly become chaotic if expectations are not properly established.

8. Create a Pencil System.

In classrooms, pencils seem to grow legs and escape on an adventure, never to be seen again.

It’s essential to have a pencil system so that time is not wasted during instructional time stopping to assist a student who needs a sharpened pencil.

Whichever pencil policy you choose, make sure it works well for both you and students.

You’ll be glad you added this item to your checklist of classroom routines and procedures.

9. Designate Area for Turning in Papers.

As a teacher, there are a lot of papers that come through your hands: homework, notes from home, office papers, forms, etc.

These papers can get mixed up very quickly.

That’s why it’s helpful to have designated areas in the classroom with boxes or trays where students can submit various types of paperwork.

10. Discuss Transitioning Between Tasks.

When moving from one activity to the next, there can be a bit of chaos.

To reduce distractions and disruptions, discuss with students how transitioning in the classroom should look and sound.

Keep in mind that attention getters are an essential component to transitioning well.

See tips for transitioning well in the classroom.

11. Set-Up “Ask For Help” System.

When a teacher is working with a small group or an individual, she must remain aware of the students working independently.

While she may not be able to assist other students immediately, she does need to have in place a system where those students can access help.

One such method is called Ask 3 Before Me.

With this strategy, students have to ask up to three classmates for help before seeking the assistance of the teacher.

See the details of Ask 3 Before Me.

12. Give Unpacking Expectations.

One of the first items you may want to check off your classroom routines and procedures list is unpacking expectations.

When students arrive to class, there can be moments of organized chaos before learners settle down into their bell work.

Be clear on your expectations…

  • Where will students put supplies?
  • Does homework need to be submitted upon arrival?
  • Where do they place backpacks?
  • Should students grab any particular materials or supplies before getting to work?
  • Where do lunchboxes go?

This unpacking time also allows the teacher a few minutes to take care of administrative tasks so make sure it’s a seamless process.

13. Demonstrate Classroom Library Checkout System.

If you have a classroom library, model to students the appropriate way to check out a book.

Also discuss caring for the books so that the texts are available long-term for everyone’s enjoyment.

14. Determine Storage and Gathering of Materials.

  • Will students store supplies in cubbies, lockers, and/or their desks?
  • Will they be expected to keep certain items in their desks at all times?
  • Where will community materials be stored?
  • Will students have permission to grab supplies whenever they need, or will there be designated times to retrieve them?

These guidelines need to be discussed so that students know what to expect.

15. Share Expectations of Group and Independent Work.

To round out your checklist of classroom routines and procedures, share with students expectations for working independently and in groups.

Learners need to understand what each looks and sounds like.

The Champs Classroom Management Plan includes great ideas for helping students visualize each of these formats.

Final Thoughts

As a teacher, you have a million things to think about when it comes to managing a classroom.

However, if you implement these essential classroom routines and procedures early in the school year, you’ll set yourself up for success.

These classroom routines and procedures serve as your guide to a better experience with student behaviors.

Properly set into place, these guidelines offer all students the best possible learning environment.