Classroom Routines During the First Week of School


Teaching Routines in middle school.

Do you take a lot of time to teach your 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. I can’t remember when I first read the book, but I think it was at least 12 or 13 years ago. (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 the teaching of the routines and procedures, but also the ‘strict’ reinforcement of 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….and teaching these classroom routines during the first week of the school year.

1) I have routines for homeroom that are posted on the Smartboard every morning: 

attendance sheet for sign-in routine

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.)
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.)

2) I have routines for the beginning of class, also posted on the Smartboard every day (these vary 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 that review or preview concepts)
​3) I give students a list of some of our common routines/procedures during our first class (again, most of the procedures are ideas from this book).
The routines listed below are phrased as they are in the handout I give my students.

Classroom Routine for dismissal at 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 Routine for Asking for Help:

classroom routine 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:

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 they follow the sign-out routine that our school requires….no words necessary, so not disturbing to 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!

I know there are more concepts from this book that have helped me over the years, but I think this post is long enough to cover the routines I value the most:-)

What classroom routines do you find most valuable to teach and reinforce during the first week of school?

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


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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