Skip to Content

15 Effective Classroom Procedures, Rules & Routines

All Posts
Teacher with middle school students.


Use Prodigy to level up your student's learning experience at no cost!

See how it works


  • Teaching Strategies

When setting up a classroom, it’s easy to think about decorations and lesson plans. But the less fun stuff like classroom procedures, rules, and routines also need your attention. 

Effective classroom procedures, rules, and routines can make or break your school day. Having a good plan can be the difference between heading home at the end of the day feeling burnt out or feeling fulfilled and accomplished. 

Classroom procedures, rules, and routines are also essential for your students’ success. They contribute to a well-organized and conducive learning environment.

This article will explore 15 fundamental classroom guidelines that improve classroom management, optimize instruction time, and foster a positive atmosphere.

Whether you are a new or experienced teacher, these strategies will give you tips and tricks for creating a thriving classroom.

What are classroom procedures & why are they important?

Before we dive into our 15 favorite classroom routines, let’s talk about what exactly classroom procedures are. 

Classroom procedures refer to the structured routines and guidelines that teachers establish to manage their classrooms effectively.

Whether you teach in a high school setting or in a younger classroom, you will have various procedures in your classroom. They will encompass activities like morning routines, bell work, and teaching classroom rules.

Classroom procedures are not one-size-fits-all; they vary by grade levels and should be interactive to engage students.

On the first day of school, it's essential for teachers to start off on the right foot. You should  demonstrate and explain these procedures, ensuring that students understand what is expected of them.

15 Classroom routines & procedures for better classroom management

Now, on to the suggestions for routines and procedures to make your classroom a better place to learn! Some of these will be easy to implement exactly as they’re explained. Or you may think of ways to tweak them to work better for your students.

1. Classroom Jobs

Assigning classroom jobs is a valuable classroom management strategy, especially in elementary classrooms. When implementing this, students are given specific responsibilities, such as line leader, door holder, or pencil sharpener.

This not only fosters a sense of responsibility but also reduces disruptions as students focus on their tasks.

Classroom jobs are most appropriate for elementary classrooms, particularly in the beginning of the school year. Younger students benefit from this structured system because it helps build a sense of community and cooperation.

Classroom jobs also teach students about responsibility and the importance of contributing to the classroom's smooth operation. It instills a sense of ownership and teamwork, making the classroom run more efficiently.

2. Transitions

Teaching students how to transition smoothly between activities when the bell rings is vital for classroom management and avoiding disruptions. 

It’s a necessary classroom procedure across various grade levels, from elementary and high school.

In elementary classrooms, clear transition procedures help maintain order, while in high school, they ensure students make the most of limited class time.

Effective transition procedures can also be used when students are switching from one task to the next in the same class. They help minimize disruptions by giving clear instructions and signals for packing up, moving and settling into the next activity.

3. Monthly calendar

A monthly calendar can help you with long-term planning and organizing classroom events, no matter what grade level or subject that you teach. 

Different factors in your classroom will affect the level of detail and complexity in your calendar. If you teach in an elementary classroom, it may just include simple events and activities. Or if you teach high school, it might include project deadlines, test dates, and extracurricular events.

Post a monthly calendar in an easy-to-reference place in the classroom provides students with a sense of predictability and allows them to plan their time effectively. It helps everyone stay organized and aware of upcoming classroom and school-wide events.

4. Hand signals

“Can I please use the restroom?”

We’ve all heard this many times from the back of the classroom during a math lesson. 

Using hand signals can help cut back on distracting interruptions during a lesson by giving students a silent way to ask for a drink of water or to use the restroom. 

Hand signals are most appropriate for elementary school students who may need a non-disruptive way to communicate their needs, especially during the first week of school when they are still getting used to classroom routines.

5. Standards for technology use

Most classrooms today have some form of technology in them. And while these are great tools for learning, they also require rules and boundaries. 

Set standards for technology use, including expectations for using devices, the internet, and classroom software. Outline these procedures very clearly when you do back-to-school activities to ensure responsible tech use from the get go. 

Technology standards are necessary for all grade levels, with age-appropriate variations in the rules and expectations. While elementary school students likely use technology at home as well, they may still need to learn about proper technology use.

The emphasis in your procedures should be safety and responsibility.

6. Lining up in hallways

Everybody, line up!

While you may think that lining up is an easy concept, for many students, it’s a skill that they need to learn. But there is plenty of time to practice how to line up quietly and orderly during fire drills, lunch count, or other transitions.

With younger students, you may need to give more guidance and have them practice in the first week of school.  Older students, though, can likely follow procedures with less direct instruction.  You just need to let them know what’s changed from last year to this year. 

Teaching students how to line up in the hallways isn’t just necessary for good behavior management. It’s also vital for their safety during emergencies like fire drills.

7. Use of supplies

Teaching students how to use supplies is fundamental for maintaining an organized and productive classroom environment. 

While the supplies that you may use are different for different grade levels, all students can benefit from expectations around supply use.

Students need to understand how to responsibly use and store supplies, ensuring that everything they need is accessible and well-maintained throughout the school year.

8. Use of free time

Teaching students how to use free time constructively, whether at the end of the day or during small groups, is a valuable classroom procedure. 

Some of your younger learners may struggle with unstructured time if they don’t know what to expect. Talking at the beginning of the year about activities that can be done and rules that should be followed helps prevent this. 

Some ideas for activities to suggest include reading, completing unfinished work or engaging in independent learning.

9. Set procedures for turning in finished work

Establishing procedures for turning in finished work is essential for a well-organized classroom.

No matter what grade level or subject that you teach, your students will have work to turn in. Having a clear procedure will save everyone some headache. 

If you have technology in your classroom, you will likely also need to develop procedures for handing in work digitally as well. Making an anchor chart with step-by-step instructions for turning work in is a great idea for younger classrooms.

10. Fire & weather drills

While emergency drills may be nerve-wrecking for some students, teaching them what to expect will help ease this anxiety. Fire and weather drills ensure that students know how to react during emergencies, keeping them safe.

Evaluate the grade level that you’re teaching and your students’ skills when creating your procedures. The increased independence of middle school and high school students should factor into your expectations of them. 

Have easy-to-reference instructions and practice often so that what to do in an emergency becomes second nature for your students.

11. Restroom procedures

Teaching restroom procedures is vital for maintaining an orderly classroom.

Every classroom needs rules for when and how students can leave the classroom. However younger students may need more explicit instructions, especially in the early weeks of the school year.

The focus of your restroom procedure should be minimizing disruption in the classroom, especially during lesson times.

12. Answering questions during a lesson

Every teacher wants their students to be engaged in their lessons, but it needs to be in a productive way. 

Teaching students how you want them to ask questions during your lesson maintains a respectful and focused learning environment

Clear rules and expectations allow all students to feel like they can contribute to class discussions and excel in the classroom.

13. What to do when there is a substitute

Setting a substitute up for success begins before they even enter the classroom. You should set clear procedures and expectations with your students about what happens when there’s a substitute teacher. This extra work ahead of time will ensure a smooth transition during teacher absences.

What exactly is expected of your students will vary depending on the grade level that you teach. 

In younger classrooms, you may simply emphasize that they listen well and do the same routines that they do when you’re teaching. 

In older classrooms, you might encourage your students to take more responsibility in your absence. This might include helping the substitute teacher pass out papers, being responsible for classroom tasks or even helping with the lesson.

14. What to do when a student is absent

Teaching students what to do when a classmate is absent helps maintain a sense of community and keeps students on track if they often work on group projects.

You will need to devise procedures for both the absent student and students who are present in the classroom. 

Set up systems for missing work so that students can easily catch up when they return. Then, devise ways that present students can still work on group work when not all of their partners are in the classroom. 

This procedure fosters a supportive learning environment and responsibility within the classroom community.

15. Grading & feedback

Having set procedures for grading and feedback is essential for transparent and consistent assessment. 

It’s important to remember that this feedback won’t always just be number or percentage. You should also have ways to give in-depth feedback on ways students are doing well or could improve. 

This is especially important in higher grade levels, like middle school and high school. Older students need to be well prepared for the real world, higher education and the job market. In-depth feedback helps them get there. 

Clear and consistent grading procedures ensure that grading and feedback is always fair, timely, and supportive of student growth and success.

Having clear procedures and routines help students know what to expect each day in your classroom. And when student’s feel safe and supported in the classroom, they can just focus on learning. Good procedures can make your classroom a space where students thrive.

If you are looking to enhance your classroom environment with an engaging and safe game-based learning tool, use Prodigy! Prodigy invites your students to play in two fun worlds each with its own flavor. As they complete missions and quests in the game, they'll practice standards-aligned questions tailored to your teaching needs.

And the best bit? Teachers and schools can use Prodigy at no cost!

Check out this sneak peek into the student experience with Prodigy below: