Checklist: Establish classroom management, routines, and rituals with students in the first few weeks of school

by | Aug 13, 2019


Have you ever found yourself in the middle of the school year, realizing your class seems completely out of control? Unfortunately, once students have been allowed to exhibit inappropriate behaviors, it’s extremely difficult to turn things around in your classroom.  It’s extremely important to establish clear behavioral expectations, proactive redirection strategies, and consequences to support teaching and learning. At the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, you have the chance to implement a comprehensive classroom management plan to establish solid routines that address the needs of all students.

Research states that the behavioral expectations implemented in the first three weeks will set teachers and students up for success with the next thirty-three weeks of school.  Over the next two weeks, we’ll cover some evidence-based behavioral strategies you can use to establish a solid classroom management plan, routines, and rituals with your students to implement the first three weeks of school. First, we’ll outline a checklist of broad steps you can use to establish a classroom management plan. Next week, we’ll share some practical exercises you can use to teach students your expected behaviors, routines, and rituals.

We want to get you started with this simple checklist for you to use to establish a classroom management plan with your students during the first three weeks of the school year:

#1: During the first week of school, limit the list of topics you want to cover each day.

Students are more receptive to change on the first day of school than at any other time of the year because they don’t have solidified expectations. Take advantage of this opportunity by thoroughly explaining each routine and ritual so students can completely understand your behavioral expectations. It’s more important to have students master each behavioral expectation you present than to speed through as much content as you can.

#2: As you teach each classroom behavioral expectation, routine, and ritual, keep these five steps in mind:

  • Clearly state each behavioral expectation, including any details which accompany the expectation.
  • Explain the reason behind the rule or behavioral expectation. Students always wonder, “Why does this matter?”
  • Use yourself as a model to demonstrate exactly what it looks like to perform each component of the behavioral expectation you have set. (Also do this to demonstrate what it looks like to walk through the progression of behavioral expectations and discipline procedures.)
  • Have the students practice completing the behavioral expectation until they get every component correct.
  • Reteach the behavioral expectation as often as needed anytime you see a student miss a step.

These steps can also be used throughout the entire year (not just at the beginning) whenever you want to establish a new behavioral expectation, routine or reinforce an existing one.

#3: Outline your classroom management plan with confidence.

Keep in mind that behavioral expectations and rules are not mean or bad; actually, they are comforting for students. When you outline a detailed classroom management plan, students know exactly how to earn your praise. A consistent plan also lets students feel safe, knowing what to expect when they walk into your classroom each day.

Most importantly, when you introduce your classroom management plan to students, do so with enthusiasm and passion. After all, if you aren’t excited about the new school year, why should your students care about what you have to say?

#4: Give students the freedom to also feel confident in your plan.

Assure your students that your stated behavioral expectations will remain consistent for the entire school year—this lets them know you’re trustworthy and committed to their success. Also assure your students that you will treat them with respect, even when they make mistakes in carrying out your behavioral expectations—this lets them know you’re on their side and have compassion for them.

Also, let students know you always welcome their questions if they feel unclear about any of your behavioral expectations.

#5: Post your rules and behavioral expectations in an obvious place.

This allows you and your students to easily refer back to the behavioral expectations and rules whenever needed. You may appreciate the reminders just as much as they do so you can be consistent with your expectations!

Check back next week for some practical exercises.

We’ll walk through strategies you can use to implement behavioral expectations, routines, and rituals in your classroom during the first three weeks of the school year.