How to Set Up Classroom Routines & Procedures

One of the biggest things that can make or break a classroom are the routines and procedures.  I love a routine and students to do.  But many students don't know exactly what you expect from them unless you show them.

How to set up classroom routines and procedures in any elementary classroom!

What exactly are routines & procedures?  Routines are the things your students will do over and over again.  Procedures are the steps your students need to take in order to accomplish a routine.

Setting up Routines and Procedures

Start with Planning

First you need to figure out exactly what routines you want.  I've created this planning sheet for you to brainstorm how you want things to go in your classroom.

Printable Version
Google Drive Version

If you're not sure how you want to do something, ask a group of teachers how they do it.  The All About 3rd Grade Facebook group is a great place to ask.  Then take what you like and try it.  If the routine isn't working, it's okay to change it during the year.

Time to Teach

One of the biggest mistakes I see teachers make (I made this mistake too!), is they tell the procedures to a routine and expect students to follow it.  Students don't always know what you mean when you tell them, you have to show them.

Let's take lining up for example...


"This is how we will line up in our classroom.  When I call your group number, you will push your chair in and walk to get in line."


"This is how we will line up in our classroom.  I'm going to show you exactly what to do. (sit at an child's desk) When I call your group number (point to group table numbers), you will stand up and push in your chair (model standing and pushing in chair).  Then you will walk to get in line (model walking to get in line) and stand with your eyes forward and mouths closed (model eyes forward mouths closed).  Your hands need to be by your side or behind your back (model hand positions).

Then have all the students practice the procedure.  While students are practicing that procedure, I am praising students who are doing it correctly.  "I like the way Emily waited quietly for her group to be called."  "Thank you Joshua for remembering to push in your chair."

Once students have practiced the correct way, I do the same procedure the wrong way and have my students tell me what I did wrong.  I don't ever have my students show me the wrong way because I always want them practicing the right way.

During the first weeks of school or even after a long break, I will ask for a volunteer to show the class the correct procedure for lining up.  This is a great way to make sure students are remembering the procedures but also reminds others your expectations.

Keep in mind that the first time you introduce a procedure, you will need extra time for showing your students how to do it.  You don't want to teach the lining up procedure 5 minutes before you need to be somewhere.

Enjoy a well run classroom!

Yes, this takes a lot of work, but you will be so glad you spent the time in August/September showing students what you expect.  Come October, you classroom routines should be smooth sailing!

If you're looking for a great way to display your routines and procedures during the first week, check out my Editable Back to School Day PowerPoint!  It keeps you and your students on track!


  1. You are definitely right about this one, planning routines and procedures can make or break a classroom environment, thanks for the informative post and keep up the good work.

  2. Classroom routines are always very difficult to determine and usually changes every few weeks however this post was definitely very informative and helpful.

  3. This is really a motivational post. I really enjoyed reading you post. I will share this post with my friends. Visit Here: Tim Bosque