The battle for management of the classroom is often won or lost before the students enter the room. The implementation of offensive strategies carefully planned before the first day of school begins can bring order to chaotic classroom routines. For example, in a perfect world students would enter the classroom, sit at their desks, take out their homework, textbook, paper, and pen, and quietly wait for instructions from the teacher. Unfortunately, none of us live in a perfect world. So, how do you structure your entrance routine so students are ready to learn from the moment class begins?
An excellent entrance routine involves training students to enter the classroom and having the classroom prepared for their entrance. Teachers should have a brief assignment posted on the board for students as they enter. Doug Lemov (2010) in Teach Like a Champion calls this assignment a “do now.” A “do now” is a simple assignment that ties into the learning topic of the day such as an open-ended question or a mathematical word problem that students can do independently in 3-5 minutes using paper and pencil. This procedure gives the teacher time to greet students at the door as they enter. Wong and Wong (2009) in The First Days of School stress the teacher being at the door to greet the students, thereby, letting the students know they are welcome and a vital part of the class. In large middle and high school settings where students often feel isolated as they are herded through the hallways from one room to another a greeting by the teacher can make a difference in their day.
Not only must the teacher have the classroom ready for the students, but the students must be ready for the classroom. Students should know that entering the room involves finding their assigned seat, placing their homework on the corner of their desk, and starting the assignment. As the students enter and begin quietly working, the teacher is able to take attendance visually since students sit in assigned seats, check for homework completion because it is placed on the corner of their desks, and begin the day’s activities without needing the call the class to order.
Combinations of effective classroom routines such as these can increase student participation, build teacher-student rapport, and efficiently use school time for student learning. In the words of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, “forewarned, forearmed; to be prepared is half the victory.” What are entrance routines that you find effective?
About the author: Sheri Aspito has been active in the field of education for 30 years serving as a public school teacher, a college professor, and a private school administrator. She currently holds Master’s degrees in education and theology. Currently an assistant professor at Valley Forge Christian College she teaches classroom management to pre-service teachers. She lives in the mountains of Western Maryland with her sons, James and Jonathan, and a dog named Blue.