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Procedures for Success! [episode 18]


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Morning Message: 

[00:56] What is one thing in your classroom you can’t live without?

We received a wide range of answers to this question! Our answers were a paper cutter and an automatic stapler, so very essential to our elementary needs.

When our community answered, they said a rug, working air conditioner, Sharpies, printer, sharpened Ticonderogas, iced coffee, and their grade partner. Whatever it is you can’t live without, we do know it’s important to your teaching!

We’d love to hear your responses to this question and future questions, so let us know over on Instagram!

Here’s an overview of episode 18:

Welcome back to another episode and Happy 4th of July! Today is all about celebrating our country’s independence and in this episode, you’ll be celebrating your students’ success through the expectations you’ve set in your classroom. The task of setting up your classroom with procedures and routines can be daunting and time-consuming, but it’s worth it in the long run. So in today’s episode, we’ll be sharing steps to establishing efficient classroom procedures for success. 

If you really think about it, there’s a procedure or routine for how to do almost everything in your classroom. That whole idea takes effort, planning, and time designated to do it the right way, which is why some teachers tend to skip over going over procedures. But let’s put it this way – a procedure will be established in your classroom one way or the other. Either by you or your students. In one scenario you’ll be managing your expectations, and in the other, you’ll be managing consequences. 

But before you can effectively plan out what needs to happen in your classroom on the first days and weeks of school, you need to make a plan for how you’re going to establish your classroom procedures and routines. Throughout the episode, we walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to effectively establish procedures in your classroom. 

In order for learning to happen, your students need to know how to function in your classroom, for they need structure and predictability. Establishing procedures and routines enforces that environment. By creating and implementing a plan you’ll set up routines and procedures for success in both your classroom and with your students.

In this episode on procedures for success, we discuss:

  • Ways to help you identify what procedures you need and then develop a plan to implement them
  • How procedures are established in your classroom by either you or your students
  • A Tell, Try, Tally method to teaching procedures and routines
  • The benefits of establishing routines and procedures in your classroom

This week’s teacher approved tip:

[13:36] Put a small mirror near the tissue box.

Ever have a student blow their nose and then have remains from what was in their nose all over their face? That’s why putting a mirror next to the tissue box is a great idea! Students can check their faces to make sure they’ve taken care of everything and their face is clean without you having to do it. You can even take this a step further and create a whole nose-blowing station for your students.

What we’re giving extra credit to this week:

[14:53] Heidi is giving extra credit to our Loona App

[16:03] Emily is giving extra credit to Flecks of Gold journal


If you enjoyed this episode, you’ll love these too:

Read the transcript for episode 18, Procedures for Success:

Hey there. Thanks for joining us today. In today’s episode, we’re diving into the topic of establishing classroom procedures. And we’ll share a teacher approved tip for making a small tissue station in your classroom. We start our episodes with a morning message just like we used to do at morning meeting in our classrooms. This week’s morning message is what is one thing in your classroom you can’t live without? What do you think, Heidi? I think it’s my rotary paper cutter from Fiskars it just cuts so nice. And you know the ones in the workroom are not reliable or not and I can never get a good cut on those like guillotine cutters. I don’t understand it. Rotary girl all the way didn’t think I’d ever have like an allegiance to paper cutter but here we are. How about you Emily? What can’t you live without? I’d have to be an automatic stapler. It just makes making little packets so much faster. Oh, it is definitely a lifesaver and a hand saver. I hate having to like smash that. Stapler for a few billion. Yes. We have some responses from our community. Rachel said my rug Oh yeah. Now that she mentioned that that that might be my must have Danny said a working air conditioner. Oh way to remedy and I was jealous. We all deserve that though. Lindsey said sharpies absolutely let me add flair pen yes to that. Nobody said that. Rhoda said a printer. Oh, that would be another nice one. I had a printer in my room for a while and then there was like no way to get more ink for I don’t remember how that happened that we all ended up with them in the nobody ever used. It was It was rough. Yeah. Christine said Sharpened Ticonderogas. Yes, buy the pre-sharpened pencils. It is worth it. Ashley said my iced coffee. And Michelle said my grade partner love it. Yeah, love that gotta get each other through this. We’d love to hear your responses to this over on Instagram, we’re at @2ndstorywindow and that’s with the two.

It’s hard to believe. But some teachers are already getting ready to go back into the classroom in just a couple of weeks. It can hurt. Before you can effectively plan out what needs to happen in your classroom on the first days and weeks of school, you need to make your plan for how you’re going to establish your classroom procedures and routines. It is not exciting or flashy, but it’s true. In order for learning to happen, your students need to know how to function in your classroom. They need structure and predictability. And here’s the thing that maybe no one has mentioned to you before. Even if you don’t teach procedures, your students will still use procedures. Consider that for a moment. Around every regular action that will happen in your classroom. Whether it’s getting a pencil or turning in work, a standard of behavior will develop. So you have a choice as the teacher, you can intentionally establish the efficient procedures you want to see. Or you can just let them develop on their own. In the first case, you get to set the course for how you want things to go for your class this year. But in the second situation, you have little control. By letting the procedures develop on their own, you’ll end up spending your time managing consequences instead of expectations. The key to a classroom that runs smoothly is to intentionally establish your procedures from the very first day. And while this may demand a lot of time and attention at the beginning of the year, you will end up saving so much time and effort in the long run. Efficient procedures free up your time and energy for the meaningful engaging in a fun parts of teaching. But that’s not all. Efficient classroom procedures can eliminate a lot of the common discipline issues that arise with students. When your students know exactly what they need to do. The opportunities for troublemaking and off task behavior are greatly reduced. You’re preventing problems before they even happen.

So today we’re going to talk about the steps to establishing efficient classroom procedures and routines for your students. We’ll help you identify what procedures you need and then develop a plan to implement them. We actually have a free download you can use to help you develop your specific plan and we will link to it in the show notes or you can find it at second story procedures.

The first step is to determine where to start, it might be helpful to imagine yourself as one of your students entering your classroom at the start of the day. Think through every single thing you want them to do throughout the day and consider all the different parts of your day. Make a list of those parts of your day and the very specific procedures that are involved in those areas. In the download, we provide lots of questions to consider when you’re deciding each of your procedures. But let’s just try one together. How about lunchtime procedures? Because we know there are a few. Yes, and in most cases, they have to be done very specifically, and in quick amount of time, because there’s other classes waiting on you, right? Here are some questions to ask yourself while planning your lunchtime procedures. You know, there’s the obvious ones, like when is lunch? And what are your kids going to be eating? Do they get to choose? Is it assigned? You need to know where your students are going to wait in line? Some schools have really specific expectations around the noise level, you need to know how your kids get their food, and then where should they sit? Sometimes there’s schools have assigned seats, sometimes they don’t, then you need to have more specific questions about things like what are you going to do for students with home lunch? What if students need something open like those Go-Gurt packs, like no kid can get those open? So what should kids do if they need that? What did they do if they’re just spill? You need to know what your kids should do after they’re eating, especially if you’re not in the lunchroom to direct them? What they should do if they need to go to the bathroom in the middle of lunch? Where does the trash go? Then what do they do with their empty lunchbox after they eat? And what do students do after lunch? Do they have to sit? Can they go outside? What if they need their coats? What if they need a basketball? What happens if parents show up for lunch? That is a lot of questions. But that’s how detailed we want you to think about each of your procedures. This is how you will determine exactly what needs to be taught and identify any potential problems that you want to address in advance, like opening the yogurt packs. Once you’ve considered all the aspects of the procedure, it’s time to make your plan. You do that by identifying what you need students to do, and how you want them to do it. And just remember, the more contingencies you plan for in your procedures, the more smoothly things will run in the future.

Step two in establishing your classroom routines is to teach your procedures and routines. And it turns out that the best way to teach procedures is to actually teach procedures. Yes, it’s true. All of those many procedures you need your class to learn must be explicitly taught. Let’s be honest, this will take a lot of time and effort at the start. But is it worth all the hassle? In one of our favorite books Tools for Teachers by Fred Jones, he has a quote that we love so much and I would cut it down a little except every word of this is so true. He says, “The standards in any classroom, to put it bluntly, are defined by whatever the students can get away with. If teachers do not take the time to carefully teach their rules, routines and standards, they will get whatever the students feel like giving them. A wise teacher knows that spending time on procedures early in the semester saves time in the long run. Prevention is always cheaper than remediation.” And that is a good thing to remind yourself when it feels like this is taking so much time at the beginning of the school year. All this hard work is going to pay off big time in the long run. The effort you put in at the start will save you from addressing the same behaviors over and over during the school year. So when we’re ready to teach those procedures, we like to use Harry Wong’s three step approach for teaching any classroom procedure. Step one is explain which is state explain, model and demonstrate the procedure. Step two is rehearse, rehearse and practice the procedure. And step three is reinforced reteach rehearse, practice and reinforce the procedure until it becomes a habit. But we turned that method into an easier to remember phrase: Tell Try Tally. Much easier to remember. So puts more effort into making it cohesive yes, we want alliteration please. So what does Tell Try Tally look like? Well, first you tell your students about the procedure, you’re going to clearly and explicitly explain exactly what you want them to do. You may want to post the steps on the board, and you need to model it for them in detail narrating what you’re doing each step of the way. You may also want to tell them why this procedure matters. It’s easier for some students to keep a role when they understand why it’s important, then it’s time to try. So ask a volunteer to come model for the class how to do the procedure. While the student models the procedure, you can point out exactly what the student is doing correctly. See how he’s going straight to the hooks to hang up his backpack when he arrives. And now he’s taking his homework folder to the bin. You can have one or two other students model as well. And you may even ask a student to model what not to do for this procedure, and have the rest of the students point out what they’re doing wrong. Students get such a kick out of this. But be sure nobody gets embarrassed when you do this, it should be all fun. Once it’s been modeled a few times, it’s time for your whole class to practice the procedure. watch them closely as they do the procedure and make any corrections you need to now is the time to fix mistakes before they turn into habits. You can compliment students on what they’re doing right. But we found younger students appreciate this and older students do not appreciate having that kind of attention. Obviously, make whatever adjustments to this plan that you need for your specific students. And then the last step of teaching procedures is tally. Ask students to evaluate how well they followed the directions for the procedure. It can be as simple as thumbs up or thumbs down, point out what you notice going well and offer any corrections needed. Make sure to keep practicing these procedures until they have them mastered. So practice, practice, practice practice. Those three steps Tell Try and Tally will help you effectively teach any classroom procedure or routine.

So what’s the last step in establishing our procedures and routines Heidi? The last step is to evaluate. Tallying is actually an ongoing process. So you will want to continue to observe how well students are completing procedures as the year progresses. Once you notice one of your procedures is not working as smoothly as it used to, it’s time to Tell Try and Tally again. It’s totally normal to need to reteach procedures during the year when things get lacs. But it’s also possible that you’ll find a certain procedure isn’t working. Because there’s a problem with the procedure itself. That means it’s time to really evaluate the procedure or routine in detail. In the free download we have for this episode. We include checklists you can use to evaluate your different procedures. This can help you identify the gap between what you want to happen and what is actually happening. And then you’ll know what you need to do to fix it. That’s so helpful, because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a procedure and thought this is not working. But it’s hard sometimes put your finger on why it’s not working. Oh, absolutely. But this will kind of help you pinpoint. Like starting with the big ideas and maybe working down to smaller like oh, oh, that was the problem. Yes. So if you discover that one of your procedures needs to be adjusted, it’s never too late to do that. So to recap, the three steps for establishing procedures in your classroom are one, identify what procedures you need, two teach the procedures explicitly using the Tell Try Tally method. And practice practice practice until you want to go crazy, but it helps. And number three, evaluate your procedures adjust as needed, and then reteach when necessary. Making a plan for success for classroom routines and procedures will help you do everything else you need to do in the first few weeks of school. This process lays the groundwork for everything else you need to do to set up your classroom successfully at the beginning of the year.

Now let’s talk about this week’s teacher approved tip. Each week, we leave you with a small actionable tip that you can apply in your classroom today. This week’s teacher proof tip is put a small mirror near the tissue box. Heidi tell us more about this. This is a tip I picked up as a preschool teacher. But if I were back in an elementary classroom, I would 100% use it. So often, a student will blow their nose and then they turn around and there’s that gunk all over their faces. That’s the worst. But if you put a small mirror by the tissue box, the little darlings can check their faces to make sure they’ve taken care of everything. And then you can take this one step further and set up a whole nose blowing station, which is what we have in our preschool. So I used a folding TV tray that if you haven’t heard, maybe Amazon, but it’s just a little one little folding TV tray and it holds a tissue box and hand sanitizer. And then I used command strips to hang a little mirror at kid height on the wall behind the tray. And then I tucked a little garbage can under the tray because you know those dirty tissues will not make it into the trash if the kids have to walk to throw them away. So true. And this has helped even our littlest preschoolers managed to wipe their noses much more thoroughly than before. And if it means I have to wipe one less nose, it is a win for me. Absolutely success.

To wrap up the show we’re sharing what we’re giving extra credit to this week. Heidi, what are you giving extra credit to this week? I am giving extra credit to the Luna app. Maybe we should preface this by the fact that both of us are high maintenance sleepers. So we need extra help. And getting to sleep some nights. Yeah, getting to bed is a lot of work. It’s I think it’s more work than getting up honestly, that the Luna app is designed to kind of help make that a little more smooth. So it’s part coloring app, part BEDTIME STORY part, search and find, and it’s meant to kind of help your brain start to turn off a little bit. And so they have these beautiful sleep scapes is what they’re called with, like an image on it. And then, as you go through the story, you like tap on certain things, you have to find things in the picture. And then by the time you’re done with the story, 15, 20, 30 minutes, you’re ready to settle into sleep. And it has been a lifesaver. I think I’ve probably used it almost every night for like 16-17 months now. They also have stories and music. So there’s lots of things to help you if you also need some help getting to sleep. And Emily, what’s your extra credit. This week, I’m giving extra credit to the flecks of gold journal that I got from one of my favorite podcasts 3 in 30 Takeaways for Moms, which is with Rachel Nielsen. It’s a three year journal for moms with a small space every day to record something you want to remember from your day. And I liked that the space is small, so I don’t feel pressure to give a recording of the whole day, I just pick one memory. And I also like that that frees me up to just pick a memory from a different day if I can’t think of something today or if I’m catching up after a few days. And the three year format allows you to revisit the memories next year when you’re recording your new memory. It’s a really nice journal too. And I think a lot of moms would really enjoy this journal. I’ll put a link to that journal in the show notes and to the Luna app.

That’s it for today’s episode. Get started on your plan for classroom procedures. And don’t forget today’s teacher approved tip for adding a mirror to your tissue station. Thank you for listening.

More About Teacher Approved:

Do you ever feel like there’s just not enough time in the day to be the kind of teacher you really want to be? The Teacher Approved podcast is here to help you learn how to elevate what matters and simplify the rest. Join co-hosts Emily and Heidi of Second Story Window each week as they share research-based and teacher-approved strategies you can count on to make your teaching more efficient and effective than ever before. 

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