The sooner you instill independence in your students, the sooner you will be able to teach and the more teaching time you will have!
Your morning routine should be firmly established from the first steps your students take into the school each morning.
This independence will give you the freedom to do what you need to do each day upon entry: greeting students, attendance, assisting students who need help etc.
The routine you establish is comforting to students because they know what to expect each morning upon entry and children thrive on routine and structure. This is not to say that some days, things may change. But as the saying goes;change is good but it is not always easy.
Transitions in the classroom from one activity to another should be done quickly and smoothly to create a calmness even during organized chaos. The only way to achieve this is through routine.
A few examples of transition times which can be taught are: moving from seats to group area, putting away materials, lining up to leave the classroom, walking down the hall as a class. My previous post highlights how to teach a new routine.
These routines should be taught throughout the year and reviewed periodically or when deemed necessary.
Where supplies are kept, how they are handled, cared for and returned is a routine which will help the day move efficiently along with little direction from the teacher.
Careful planning and consideration of supply area locations and their organization, will allow for a easy flow of the distribution and return of supplies.
Most classrooms will hopefully have a good supply of books for independent reading. Students need to be taught how the books are organized (genre, fiction and non-fiction, levels etc.); how to handle them; how to correctly return a book.
You will want to keep your book collection organized and your students can do this for you by implementing a routine.
Every classroom requires a simple set of expectations which can be generated by the teacher and students. These expectations should be reviewed regularly and reinforced naturally throughout the year to help keep everyone on track.
Keep it simple and when a rule is broken, the student can be gently or firmly redirected using the classroom expectations as a starting point.
An example would be: respect the learning of others. If a student is getting a group of students off task, remind him that he is not respecting the learning of others.
Children need and want clearly defined boundaries and will usually respond positively when they realize they have crossed a line of acceptable behavior. Clearly defined expectations will help children take more responsibility for their actions and ultimately help guide them more independently through the day.
School/Home Communication Folder
Teaching children to be responsible for this folder is key to ensuring seamless communication between school and home occurs.
Students should be taught to unpack these folders each morning at school, repack at the end of the day and unpack at home and repack for school.
This routine, which involves home, can be communicated to parents/guardians in a variety of ways depending on the teacher preference.
End of Day
How the day ends, can be almost as important as how the day starts. You want happy children heading home to share their day with their families.
Have students organized well before the dismissal bell to ensure a stress free end of the day for the students and yourself. Establish a routine to ensure students have everything they need to bring home.
Taking the time to establish these routines in your classroom will have a huge payoff for you and your students. It will take time, patience, reinforcement and dedication but the end result of creating this independence for your students will be joyous for all!