First Year Teacher: Classroom Routines to Plan for

Kids CRAVE routine. They need it and they want it. Don’t believe me? Give your students a free day and see how crazy it is. When kids have classroom routines and stability behavior is better and thus learning is increased!

Establishing classroom routines for a first year teacher

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As soon as I graduated college I was accepted into The Teacher Fellows Program at Texas State University. This program allowed me to complete my first year of teaching while earning my masters all in one year.

One class required us to develop a plan for our classroom. It was like my bible during my first year of teaching. I still have my Classroom Management Plan binder but I glance at it less and less each year. (Which is good that I don’t need it as much, but a glance through it each year is always really refreshing!)

Within this binder we developed all sorts of plans and goals for the upcoming year. One section was devoted completely to classroom routines. Things like morning and afternoon routines, pencil sharpening, bathroom expectations, etc.

Unfortunately, I don’t think many new teachers stop to think about all of those things before the school year starts. We get so caught up in laying out and decorating our classroom that we forget to be intentional about setting routines.

Classroom Routines to Plan for:

These are some routines that are VITAL for planning out before the school year starts. I’ll give you a few of my ideas, but mainly I will ask you questions to get you thinking about them!

Morning Routines:

What will the kids do when they enter your classroom each morning? I suggest something other than “read a book.” Are there stem activities they can do? I used these writing prompts 2-3 days a week along with centers on the other days.

Establishing classroom routines for a first year teacher

Afternoon Routines:

How will the kids know it’s time to leave? When will you write notes in folders, pass out papers, give homework, etc.? This is THE MOST stressful time of the day for me and usually the time of day where I lose my cool. I know this from experience so I make sure to give myself ample time (10-15 minutes in 2nd grade) for kids to pack up and do their classroom job so I am not rushing.

Establishing classroom routines for a first year teacher

What will you do once kids are packed up and ready to go? If there is time left over, a chapter book read aloud is always a calm way to end the day


Will you allow kids to go to the bathroom whenever? How do they signal to you when they need to go? Will they take a pass? I don’t let mine take the pass to the bathroom…waaaaayyyyy too gross. I have my students put the pass on their desk so that thing doesn’t get all nasty in the bathroom.

Pencil Sharpening

The bane of every teacher…The pencil sharpener.

I refuse to let kids sharpen pencils during the day. One student’s job is to sharpen them at the end of the day and we have a tray they can get sharpened pencils from. In years past I have put mini sharpeners at each desk for them to use if absolutely necessary.

One year, pencils were such an issue that I made a pencil chart and they had to use only the pencils in their pocket….

Establishing classroom routines for a first year teacher

Student Materials

Community or individual supplies? Where will you store them? How will students get the materials if they are not stored at their desk?

Establishing classroom routines for a first year teacher

I prefer community supplies and house them all in the red cabinets in the back of my room. The “Team Captain” is the one who gets the materials for the team each day and returns them when we are done with them.

Turning in Papers

How will you manage students turning in their papers and then grading them? How will you get student work back to them to be corrected or when it is graded?

Establishing classroom routines for a first year teacher

Make a plan for this…Or else you’ll end up like me and send home papers two times a year (Christmas break and EOY….)

Teaching Classroom Routines

Once you have planned out all of your routines, you need to make a plan for teaching them.

I am a big supporter of spending the first week establishing and reinforcing routines. Yes, academics should most definitely be mixed in there but it is more of a review than new content.

Every year I give my kids a scavenger hunt on the first day of school. I place numbers all around the room so that they will go to each of the important areas (pencil sharpener, bathroom passes, material boxes, computers, etc.). After they are done scavenger-ing, I walk through each area with them and explain the routines and my expectations

I don’t always go into depth on all of them because that is too much for the first day. But I will at least explain that “this is where you will find your classroom job and we will get our first jobs next week” and talk more about that then.

Establishing classroom routines for a first year teacher

Then, throughout the week when I see students practicing the routines correctly, I reward them with a “Buchtien Buck.” They get positive reinforcement for their behavior and it also allows me to set expectations for and teach about my positive behavior plan.

Whatever routines you decide to establish or how you choose to do them is up to you. Most important is that you plan for these routines. If you are like me, you can’t get into your classroom right now. Use this time of waiting to plan out all of your routines.

There is a whole chapter in my ebook dedicated to routines. I write about many more routines as well as provide more detailed ideas of how to plan for these routines.

The book releases this Saturday (July 15th) sign up to get more info below!

Want classroom organization help? Be sure to fill out the form to schedule a time for me to come help you in your classroom!

Until next time,



Establishing classroom routines for a first year teacher

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