This post originally appeared on the blog Peas in a Pod Lessons.

It’s too soon for some of us, I know. However, when inspiration strikes I go with it. Some of you might remember my top 3 back-to-school procedures. This year, I’m adding a couple more.

1. Go  s l o w while teaching procedures. Overwhelming! It’s the perfect word to sum up my first year teaching. It’s not all doom and despair though. It is exhausting, but your first year teaching will also be full of discoveries and excitement! I’m reflecting back and writing this post with the hope that my experience makes the transition a little smoother for other teachers.

There are a ton of different ways you can effectively manage each of these procedures. The details are up to you. Just make sure to introduce each of these in the first few days of school. It will make classroom management over the course of the entire year SO much easier.

Procedures I take time to teach at the start of the school year are:

  •  Entering the classroom (Teach how you expect them to come in, what to do with their things, and the morning routine.)
  •  Lining up
  • Walking in the hall (I like to point out lines or cracks, and tell them one foot must touch that line! When I say “check your feet” it means they put one foot on the line. It works, but I once had a visitor think she might have stepped in something yucky…lol…so you might change the wording.)
  • Restroom & water signals
  • Cafeteria procedures (Teach them how to get their lunches and the lunchroom rules BEFORE lunch time.)
  • Getting / sharpening pencils
  •  Coming to the carpet (primary)
  • Getting / returning books and materials
  • Classroom rules (4 rules cover it ALL: Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful, Be Kind)
  • Behavior management (I introduce our behavior clip chart, and demonstrate how it works.)
  • Dismissal procedures
  • Conflict management:                                                                                        

~ I go over “I messages” on the very first day of school. ( I feel…When you….Please stop.)                                                                      

 ~ We also review what to do when an accident happens, like bumping into each other. Both kids apologize instantly, and we move on. I spend a lot of time having the kids role play different scenarios.

2. The “Teach to…”

This is how I teach the above procedures.

During my first year of teaching, my principal really focused in on “teach to”. This simple procedure proved very effective, and I still use it today. To use this method follow the same “script” for each procedure. Let’s take lining up for example.

  • First, you would tell them your detailed expectations.
  •  You model your expectations.
  •  Then, ask them what lining up would look like if it is done incorrectly.
    Take a few suggestions, and YOU model the incorrect behavior. They’ll laugh each time. Tell them they were right. That is NOT how they should line up. (Don’t let students model the incorrect behavior. It gets too silly, and the focus of what you’re teaching is lost.)
  • Ask them who remembers the proper way to line up. They will eagerly tell you.
  • Ask, “Who would like to demonstrate that for us?” Have a single student demonstrate the proper way to line up. Have them sit back down.
  • Say, “I would like a few more volunteers to help us out.” Have several students demonstrate the procedure, and sit back down.
  • Finally, have the whole class show you how it should be done!

From then on out, every time I have them line up, I ask them to demonstrate what we learned earlier about lining up. I might do this lining up exercise a couple times on the first day, and continue it throughout the first week. Throughout the year, I will ask them to remind me what the procedure is if they start to lose it. I might even go through the “teach to” steps again.

3. Set a positive tone with first-week activities.

Avoid diving into the curriculum on the first day. If you fill the first few days of school with fun and easy activities, it’s easier for students to focus on the procedures and expectations you want them to learn. Last year, I created grade specific first week of school activity packs. Now, I have bundled them with other essentials & back to school forms.


All of my best selling  grade level resources are in one place at a deep discount. Grab yours now, before the year starts!

4. Build a community.

I’ve found that in order for students to really give it their all, they must feel loved! You might be an introvert or feel like they are strangers on the first day, but I’m telling you the sooner they feel loved by their teacher the sooner your class will run like a well-oiled machine.

I do this by telling them how excited I am to have them as a class and that I’ve heard that I was given the best ___ grade class this year. I tell them that I love them already and am so excited to spend our year together.

We do need to address inappropriate behavior and establish expectations early, however I have found that negative feedback doesn’t really work for those students that I really need to reign in. If I have to correct behavior, I work really hard to redirect the behavior rather than become negative and turn toward a punishment mentality. I also watch closely for any reason to compliment that student’s positive behavior. It’s really important to compliment good behavior at least 3 times more than we criticize unwanted behavior.

For most of my students, establishing good practices and routines is enough to keep them in line. Just walking over and standing next to them (even while teaching) will usually get them back on task.

5. Self-Care

I know you know this. I knew this. But, I still managed to get a migraine on the first day of school because I forgot to eat. Who knew I wasn’t invincible?! Not me apparently. I have since learned that this is a marathon, not a sprint. I need to pace myself. It’s going to be ok if our classrooms are not Pinterest ready. There’s a lot to be said for building that space together with the class. They tend to take more ownership of the classroom if they are allowed to give input and help with the process.

Thanks for checking out my tips! I hope you find them helpful! #backtoschool #wecandothis

**Be sure to check out my grade specific bundles here!


Melissa (from Peas in a Pod) earned her MA in Cross Cultural Teaching. This is her 13th year working with students ranging from Preschool to 6th grade. She is a super friendly, talkative, teacher in California. She loves cute new office supplies and a great thrift store find!             

Check out her innovative ideas here: ~ Peas in a Pod ~. She can also be found on Instagram @peasinapodlessonsFacebook, and Pinterest! Or be sure to stop by her blog Peas in a Pod Lessons to peek inside her classroom.