The start of the school year is the best time to teach children about what's expected in a classroom environment. Since classrooms are usually filled with twenty or more students, the expectations involve how to treat one another, advocate for what you need, collaborate, and learn best.
A space for every child
Every child needs a bit of space for their personal and study items. It's important to designate those spaces and teach children how to care for their spaces and respect each others' spaces.
Now that many classrooms have multiple seating options, it's important to fairly distribute the popular chairs such as hoki stools, comfy chairs, and other special seating.
Classroom jobs and responsibilities
There are a few very important jobs and responsibilities that help to keep a classroom running well such as clean-up, lunch count, attendance, and transition efforts. It's important that children share in these responsibilities to keep a classroom running smoothly.
When learning takes on a pattern-like approach, children generally know what to expect and have more time to do engaging learning that's possible.
Students need to be explicitly taught how to use and care for the materials they use. We can't assume that children will understand this.
There's a number of playground rules that are important to convey to keep the playground space safe and fun.
Hanging up your things, signing in, reading the schedule, getting started on morning work, putting away your items, cleaning up, and walking politely and quietly through the halls are expectations that help everyone to have a successful day.
Students need to discuss what it means to be an optimal listener, teammate, friend, work partner, independent learner, and more. Together students and teachers can create guidelines to support these behaviors, and throughout the year, rather than through punishment or threats, teachers need to teach students how to use these behaviors in positive ways to have good days. This teaching is a mainstay in elementary school classrooms as children learn to be successful in social environments outside of their homes.
At the end of the year, I'm always thinking about how to start the new year of teaching. Assessing what worked well this year and what might work better in the next year. This is a ripe time for this kind of analysis.