Why should we review classroom procedures after a break?
I hate to break it to you, but the honeymoon period is officially over. You all know what I’m talking about. Those blissful beginning weeks of school when behavior issues are at a minimum and students seem to be genuinely excited to be at school…those days are coming to an end.
This year many of us were lucky, and the back-to-school honeymoon may have been even longer as many students were not only excited but actually relieved to be returning to school after almost 6 months off. As we are nearing the end of the semester, our students are finally settling in and getting comfortable in our classrooms. Now the problem is that students are getting a little too comfortable.
Don’t get me wrong. We want students to feel at home in the classroom. We’ve worked hard to make our classrooms a fun and inviting learning environment, but there comes a time every year when it seems like classroom norms are beginning to fall to the wayside as students start treating the classroom a little more like their own living rooms. Unfortunately, in 2020, students may be actually taking part in class from their own living rooms…so there’s that too.
Nevertheless, we are coming up on the holiday break, and those days following the break are the perfect ones for reinforcing your classroom procedures with a little fun and games.
Make a Plan (for this year)
To decide what classroom procedures you want to explicitly review, start by downloading our Classroom Procedures Checklist and Game. This is a free resource that will help you get organized and decide which classroom procedures to focus on.
Begin by printing the classroom procedures checklists. Go through the lists and identify which classroom procedures need to be re-introduced to students at this point in the school year. As we always advocate for student-led activities, another option is to print the lists for students as well and have them work in groups to identify the procedures they feel need to be reviewed.
In addition to the procedures on this list, you may also want to consider some pandemic-specific questions about procedures students may have. We’ve compiled a list below to consider.
- When may students leave the classroom?
- How will students move about in the halls to maintain social distancing?
- What does the classroom schedule look like, and how does it reinforce mitigation strategies?
- How close can students sit when working in groups? How do students know if they are too close?
- When can students remove masks? When are they required to wear masks?
- Where will lunch be served? If lunch is served in the classroom, how do we dispose of our food, plates, etc.?
- How often and where should students wash their hands? How often should they sanitize?
- How can students help to keep the classroom clean?
- How can students respond appropriately and encourage speakers with masks on? Can they use hand signals to show emotions that they would normally express with their faces?
This is the perfect time of the year to take the time to consider ways to improve and streamline classroom procedures. If, upon reflection, you feel like you are wasting a lot of time cleaning, consider (and brainstorm with students) how you may be able to make classroom processes more efficient or ‘user friendly’. Consider if any procedures will need to change with the change of seasons, and take the time to make sure students are aware of the changes and (more importantly) why the changes are in place.
Once you’ve identified the classroom procedures that you want to review, we suggest using one of the games introduced in the blog post “Seven Classroom Procedure Games your Students Will Love” to reinforce those procedures with students.
And, since repetition is often one of the best strategies for learning, you could also have students make posters to act as reminders around the room.
Virtual Learning Classroom Procedures
If your students are going virtual, you may need to start all over with classroom procedures, as the virtual space requires a whole new set of norms for students.
Here are some questions to consider as you decide on the virtual classroom procedures you may want to discuss with students.
- How do students get the teacher’s attention during virtual meetings?
- How do students turn in work?
- If a student can’t access your online learning platform, who should they contact?
- What should a student do if they need to use the restroom or get a drink during a live class call?
- What should the students do if their computer freezes during instruction?
- When is it appropriate for students to turn off their videos during instruction?
- What supplies should students have prepared for virtual instruction?
- How will your students know when to mute and unmute their audio?
- What is the appropriate use of the chat feature during class?
- If students are unable to make it to a virtual meeting, who should they tell? How should they contact you?
Procedures for Classrooms Returning to In-Person/On-Sight Learning
If your students are returning to in-person learning after a long period of virtual classes, you may be looking for ways to help them acclimate to the physical classroom. As students navigate the physical classroom space and get used to interacting with others again, teaching independence and resourcefulness is incredibly important for encouraging students to take ownership of the classroom space.
Again, we strongly suggest downloading this free resource as you make and review your classroom procedures, but also make sure to check out our blog post from this last fall, “Teaching Resourcefulness and Independence through Classroom Procedures.”
We’d love to hear about some of the classroom procedures you’ve implemented this year in light of the current learning environment (especially if you’ve come up with some really creative strategies). Tell us all about them in the comments!