3 Part Lesson Format for Teaching Classroom Routines

We made a pretty exhaustive list of routines to teach in your classroom during the first couple of weeks of school in this post. That’s a LOT of lessons. How in the world do we teach each of these in a short amount of time? Let’s think about it in terms of the “I do, we do, you do” lesson plan format to make teaching classroom routines less overwhelming. What do these lessons look like? Let’s try a couple.

Three Part Lesson Format for Teaching Classroom Routines

Teaching Classroom Routines: Morning Greeting

I Do

Whenever you are teaching classroom routines, you could gather your kids to your meeting space. If you are sharing expectations about moving around the school, you can share your lesson as you go. Either way, you first need to demonstrate to your students what you want the routine you’re teaching to look like.

If you’re teaching them how to greet you in the morning, you may line them up in the hallway by your door. Show them how you plan to welcome them, then give them a choice of how they acknowledge you. You could tell them that, based on their mood, they could give you an elbow bump, a wave, or a pinky wave if they’re having a rough morning. This gives them a way to communicate quickly how they are feeling so you can reach out in a quiet moment if they need some help. Teach them what this looks like.

Once you show them the example of what to do, give them a non-example. Show them what a rude greeting or a silly greeting looks like. Ask them if your non-example matches your example? Naturally, one kid will tell you it does, but the majority will give you the answer you’re looking for. You will have that one kid who will buck every one of your routine lessons. That’s fine. The rest of the class will know what to do. It’s much easier to deal with one duck out of the row than 25. Don’t let that one kid dampen your resolve.

We Do

Once you’ve shown the students how to greet you, you then give each of them a chance to try it. Let them come in with their greeting of choice. Praise them for their greetings, and enjoy the quick connection you’re making with each of them. This may take a minute out of your first day, but you’ve taught them that it’s okay to let you know how they are feeling. You now have an immediate temperature check of your entire class before the day even starts.

You Do

When you finish your practice session, tell them they can try it on their own the next morning. Essentially, day two will be their independent practice. Teaching classroom routines is starting to feel a little less daunting now isn’t it?

Teaching Classroom Routines: Lining Up

I Do

Many schools already have norms in place for walking in the hallways. Our district teaches the 3S line: single, straight, and silent. Invite some kids up to the front of the room and ask them to line up in accordance to your district’s expectations.

Next, share a non-example. You could do this verbally, or demonstrate. While you don’t want to spend too much time on non-examples, you need to show a couple. This is an important part of the lesson.

We Do

Next have the kids practice lining up when you have no place to go. When they do this correctly, which they will mostly, praise them, and have them go back to their seats. This will take you all of about five to ten minutes to complete.

You Do

Line the kids up for your first destination of the day. I guarantee you that one kid will try to muff up your perfect 3S line. This is where you wait. You can say something like, “I am seeing so many of you in a perfect 3S line. Could each of you check the line and tell me if we need to change anything?”

Boom. Most versions of that one kid will pull it together quickly to avoid being called out. Praise the group for managing themselves. Tell them how brilliant they are and that they have picked these routines up more quickly than any class you’ve ever had. Compliment them on how well they work together. Wink at that one kid and smile big. This kid may wind up being your personal favorite by the end of the year.

When you walk your students through each part of your day with the intention of instilling these routines, these lessons will happen naturally. When kids miss the mark, remember that they don’t know your behavioral expectations, and you have to teach them what success looks like. Children who come from dysregulated homes never know what grown-ups expect from them. When you explicitly teach them what you want to see, you not only set them up to be successful in your class, you also give them a sense of safety. In particular, when children who carry trauma know what to expect, understand boundaries, and know how you want them to interact in your classroom, they realize that school is a predictable and safe space.   

Before You Go

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Three part lesson plant for teaching classroom routines
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