Saturday, 24 March 2012

Harry Wong

Now I am sure most of you have heard about this man, Harry Wong, the author of The First Days of School (How to be an Effective Teacher).  I became familiar with this book about 4 years ago when I first began my education degree.  I still use this book as a resource and I would be a little embarrassed to show you my copy because it is an unorganized mess (I have sticky notes everywhere!). 

Some of the most useful things that I have utilized from this book is setting up clear routines.

When I was a student teacher I made the assumption that routines are very important in elementary, but then these routines fizzle away when you reach high school.  As a substitute teacher now, I have come to the conclusion that Harry is always right.  I still need the routines, even with the bigger kiddos.  And I have faced the facts, even though the kiddos are bigger, they still thrive under routine and structure and prefer having a class where classroom management is strong.

So here are some things that I have done to ensure that my routine is clear.

1. I post my daily schedule every day. This reduces the number of students that come to me and ask... "What are we doing next??" or "What are we doing today?" or "Do we have art and gym today? Please Please???".

2. I post bell work on the white board.  In this case I had the students work on Daily 5.  However I mix it up with the following:
- math word questions
- fun riddles
- newspaper board writing
- "to do"/"catch up" time
- etc 

3.  I post my handful of helpers.  I found this tool really helpful in the lower grades, and almost every class I visit now seems to use this tool as well.  The helpers that I always have are:
- Calendar/Special student of the day
- Messenger (if anything needs to go to the office)
- Line Leader (they are in charge of leading the class)
- Line Caboose (they made sure every student makes it to the destination)
- Helpers (these students are great for turning off the lights, handing out papers, opening/closing the blinds, etc.)

4.  I try to be consistent with my expectations.  Before I let the class start the lesson I always take extra time to review my expectations of their work, my expectations for their behavior, and their expectations for me! I let the class tell me this instead of me rambling on... plus I love to hear "We should be making level 4 work, that means we should be taking our time to add the icing, sprinkles, and candle!", "We expect that YOU should help us when we need it!!" (this is always cute every time). 

Those are the 4 major things that I do to establish a consistent routine in my classroom.  As a substitute teacher this can be difficult if some of these things are not already established.  However, when they are established it makes my life A LOT easier because the students do not feel like their routine is out of order without their classroom teacher there (and I don't hear "this isnt how Ms/Mr.... does it" as often).

So what do you do to keep routines consistent in your classroom??


  1. Great post. I always believe it's important at the beginning of the year to slow down to eventually speed up. I don't think we have to jump into a lot of academics right away until routines and procedures and the climate are more developed. It saves time later on. Slow down to speed up.

    ❀ Tammy
    Forever in First

    1. Thanks Tammy! I agree with you, it is a lot more important to get the routines in place because without them you wont get much academics done anyways.


  2. Hi Amy:

    I couldn't agree more.
    In fact, I recently heard an observer in my room comment, "She has routines for her routines!"
    It's not always perfect, but it sure helps!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. Kim you make me giggle! I love routines for routines. I also like organization for my organization. I have CDO (that is OCD, but in the correct order).


  3. LOL! I love Kim's routines for routines!

    I have a binder of procedures that I created. It is accessible to the kids. It is the same thing that they have been taught but if anyone has a question - there it is. I too love Harry Wong!

    Now onto the important thing - where did you find/get such cute funky labels for your schedule??

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

    1. I like the binder idea! Especially for a substitute teacher to read over :)

      I made my labels (I believe all of the art is KPM doodles), I think I have them on my store, but I will send you an email with them. I originally (back in the day) made my own cartoons and bubble letters for each one... it took way too long and I always left them with the classroom teacher that was my mentor. So I had to make my own digital copy so that I could save myself time.