It is important to have a routine students can count on every day. Having the same procedures every day cuts down wasted learning time significantly. Here is the beginning of class routine I’ve used for the last three years in my seventh grade science classroom.
During the passing period before every class, I stand outside of my classroom and greet all of my students. I’m happy to see them again! Just saying hello, having a short conversation, or noticing a new haircut helps me build and maintain a positive relationship with each student, something that’s very important to me. (If you need more ideas on how to build positive relationships with even the most difficult students read this blog post.) Greeting the students before class sets the tone for a positive learning environment.
The first thing the students see when they walk into my classroom is a whiteboard I keep propped right in front of the door so students cannot miss it. The board lists the beginning of class directions. For example, it might say
- Hand in Hypothesis Worksheet 1 homework.
- Get your interactive notebook.
- Begin your Do Now.
Because I spent time early in the year establishing the beginning of class procedures, my students know they should be in their seats with their interactive notebooks by the time the bell rings. (Find information on setting up and organizing INs here.) On the Promethean Board is a PowerPoint slide showing their Do Now. This is typically what the slide looks like:
While I take roll call and take care of basic teacher housekeeping items, the students complete their Table of Contents and write the Do Now questions and answers in their IN. I require students to write the questions in their IN so they have potential test questions and answers to study in the future. Because the students need to work on their writing skills, they must answer the questions in complete sentences. The Do Now questions either review the previous lesson’s content or introduce the new content. To ensure students stay on task, I use a stopwatch to time their Do Now. Typically, I provide five minutes to complete the Do Now and add a minute or two if needed. Here is a completed Do Now:
When time is up, we discuss the answers together as a class. Students add to or change their answers as needed. Then we go over the day’s objective, rationale, and plan so students know what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how they’ll be learning it.
Well, that’s my beginning of class routine. It takes less than ten minutes, but it gets the class started without wasting learning time. The students’ minds get activated right away and ready to learn new content.