Math Wheels for Note-taking?

Classroom Routines During the First Week of School


Do you take a lot of time to teach your middle school classroom routines during the first week of the school year? 

Every year before school starts, I spend time reviewing the book, How to Be an Effective Teacher The First Days of School by Harry and Rosemary Wong.

The Classroom Routines Book

I can't remember when I first read the book, but the version I have was published in 1998, so I know it wasn't before that!

Anyway, when I think about what most contributes to making my classroom run smoothly and successfully, it always comes back to strategies I’ve implemented as a result of reading this book. That includes not just teaching the routines and procedures, but firmly reinforcing them at the start of the year.

A few of the strategies I’ve used that are most effective in the daily organization/management of my classroom include routines. They also include teaching these classroom routines during the first week of the school year.

In this post, I’ll share some of my favorite middle school classroom routines.

Must Have Classroom Routines

I have morning routines for homeroom that are posted on the Smartboard every day. 

These are:

1. Unpack and go to locker; get the materials needed for periods 1-4.
2. Sign in on the clipboard (I have a clipboard on the front board, with a list of students’ names and the dates, for students to initial to indicate that they are present.)

Classroom routnies for the morning include a student sign-in sheet for attendance

3. Sharpen pencils.
4. Put notes/papers for Mrs. N. into pink tray.
5. Begin M.G. (my term for “morning work”)…this has worked well when my 1st period class is my homeroom….this year my 1st period class will not be my homeroom, so perhaps # 5 will be silent read (which I call “Zone” read, based on Nancie Atwell’s The Reading Zone.)

I have morning routines for the beginning of class, also posted on the Smartboard every day. 

The beginning of class routines vary a little, depending on different things I try each year:

  1. Make sure you have materials (math book, notebook, pencil, eraser).           
  2. Sharpen pencils, if necessary.         
  3. Place your homework on your desk.
  4. Begin M.G. (typically several math problems from the Spiral Review)

Middle School Classroom Routine List for Students

I give students a printed list of our common routines and procedures during our first class. This way they understand their importance and they can refer to them if they forget them. Again, most of the procedures are ideas from the book, How to Be an Effective Teacher The First Days of School.
The routines listed below are phrased as they are in the handout I give my students.

Classroom Routines for Dismissal at the End of Class 

1. Every student in the room is seated at his/her desk.
2.The area around each student is clean and all materials have been put away.
3. All students are quiet.
4. Class will be dismissed when # 1, 2, and 3 are completed.

Routine for Teacher Calling for the Class’s Attention

I will say, “Give me five.”  In five seconds or less, students will do the following:
1. Eyes on speaker
2. Be quiet
3. Be still
4. Hands free
5. Listen

Classroom Routines for Asking for Help:

One of our goals during our time together is to have as few interruptions as possible. In order to cause minimal disruptions, I ask you to do the following to let me know your needs:

Using hand signals is a great way to incorporate classroom routines that don't distract from the lesson

1. If you need to use the bathroom, raise two fingers and wait for me to come to you or nod at you. (You will be permitted to use the bathroom during working time only.)
**note: I love this routine….most of the time I simply nod yes or shake my head no, and then students follow the sign-out routine that our school requires….no words necessary, so not disturbing other students.
2. If you have a question about your work, simply raise your hand.

Routine for Bathroom Sign-Out

When you have been given permission to go to the bathroom:
1) Fill out the date and time in the back of your assignment book/planner, and then have your teacher initial it.
2)Take your planner with you as your pass.
3) Sign out in the sign-out book by the door, and then you may go.
4) When you return, sign back in in the sign-out book
**note: definitely a few steps to this procedure, but our school requires it!

Final Thoughts on Classroom Routines

I know there are more concepts from this book that have helped me over the years, but this post covers the routines I value the most:-)

Looking for more routine ideas? Check out the classroom routines for the end of class post. 

OR listen in to the podcast episode Effective Morning Routines and Classroom Greetings!

Pin for Later!

Want to keep this post handy as you prepare for the next school year or semester? Pin this post to your favorite middle school board!


Welcome to Cognitive Cardio Math! I’m Ellie, a wife, mom, grandma, and dog ‘mom,’ and I’ve spent just about my whole life in school! With nearly 30 years in education, I’ve taught:

  • All subject areas in 4th and 5th grades
  • Math, ELA, and science in 6th grade (middle school)

I’ve been creating resources for teachers since 2012 and have worked in the elearning industry for about five years as well!

If you’re looking for ideas and resources to help you teach math (and a little ELA), I can help you out!



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