Ummmm, What?!!

So, last year I switched schools and went about my classroom planning for the beginning of the year as I had always done. I went through the textbooks for my two preps and planned some fun activities for the first few weeks. I attended planning meetings with my team. My syllabus and behavior contracts were prepped. I beautified my classroom with posters. I was ready to go. On the first day of class we were going to do a quick review of the syllabus and hit the ground running. I wanted to make sure that I had plenty of time for content after all.

WRONG MOVE! Honestly, I had never thought I would need to go over how to use a stapler, how to check out a computer, how to get permission from your teacher before making excessive trips to the automated hand sanitizer during group work. Needless to say, it was eye opening. I really thought that all high school students were capable of these tasks.

I did not even give a thought to planning out a way to review classroom procedures because my past experiences led me to believe that it was not necessary. After my epic failure to address my expectations during the first week of school it took awhile to get things in order. From now on, I will be spending a good amount of time going over some specifics during my first few meetings with my students.


Student Supplies

school supplies in a cup

What I Include:

I set up two stations with supplies for my students. My supply areas include two staplers, a hole punch, lined paper, pencils, an electronic pencil sharpener, Kleenex, and hand sanitizer. Your supplies might vary, but that is what my students need.

What I Suggest Reviewing:

  1. Policy for requesting permission to get out of seats to use supplies, and when it is okay.
  2. Review what you expect students to do if a stapler jams or needs more staples.
  3. Supplies are for everyone. I needed to remind students that supplies are for everyone; they should be used economically, and they should stay at the supply stations so that everyone has equal access.
  4. Rules for blowing noses and using hand sanitizer. I personally, did not love that my students thought they could go into the hallway and talk to passersby when they were blowing their nose. Likewise, we needed to have conversations about avoiding using excessive amounts of hand sanitizer.

Off Limit Areas

I considered my desk area to be my one sacred, only for me, off limits area. That is where I kept student files, student work, copies of assignments that I was going to be using in the future, and other things that students should not be accessing. I do not want students sitting in my desk chair and sifting through those things, so I make it a priority to let them know that is an area that is only for me.

Volume Levels

Teen girl using megaphone with another teen girl looking away

I post my expectations for the three volume levels in my classroom on, the walls and review them often. My three levels are ‘hush’, ‘murmur’, and ‘present’ that can be found in this poster set. I make sure students understand what I expect at each level because every teacher has different expectations.

Bathroom Policies

I have a sign out sheet for the bathroom so that I can track the times that students leave the classroom and come back. This is nice for tracking behavior patterns, but it is also important to know where everyone is and how long they have been there. Students need to raise their hands and request permission to leave, only one person can be out of the classroom at a time, and I do not let them go during the first 20 minutes of class because they have plenty of time to go to the bathroom during passing periods.

Cell Phones/Headphones

Teenage Boy Wearing Headphones And Listening To Music In Urban Setting

Some teachers allow cell phones and headphones, and some do not. Some schools have school-wide policies, but ours does not. Students will inevitably try to push the limits and challenge the rules. It is important to make your rules clear and stick to them. I use an over the door shoe hanger to collect phones at the beginning of class because I find them to be too much of a distraction. I assign each student a number on the first day of class and they put their phone in the corresponding see-through slot. They can retrieve their phones when class is over, but they cannot use them during class.

Before Every Assessment

Before every quiz or test I go over my testing rules.

  1. Talking is not permitted until all tests have been collected.
  2. Cell phones need to be stowed in their appropriate places. I do not want to see them in pockets, on laps, or on desks. They should be in backpacks or in the shoe organizer. They should also be turned off.
  3. Cheating results in a phone call home and a grade that corresponds to the school cheating policy. Our school policy is a grade of zero on the assignment for the first cheating attempt.


teen blond boy looking directly at camera

I spend time going over specific contracts for behavior and respect. My expectations are clear and I post my rules in the classroom for continuous review. I also keep track of students that push behavior boundaries for documentation purposes.

Final Thoughts

Some years your students will need a lot of classroom procedure review and structure. The sooner you can make your expectations clear the better your class life will be. Have a great year and happy teaching!

Secondary Classroom Procedures
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