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A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Classroom Systems & Routines

One of the most critical ways to start your school year strong is to introduce systems that reflect the culture and beliefs you want your students to operate from when they’re inside the classroom. At Rocketship, we help our teachers build systems that help them manage their classroom, bring enthusiasm to the school day, and encourage a culture of persistence and excellence. If you’re looking for guidance on how to bring these elements into your classroom, follow along with Rocketship educators and leaders who have worked diligently on creating highly effective classroom systems and routines.

What are Classroom Systems & Routines?
In a classroom, routines are necessary for some of those repetitive tasks that students do each day. Whether it’s entering the classroom, walking in the hallway, moving to the carpet, or passing out papers, systems are key to a high-functioning and efficient classroom. At Rocketship, we want our systems and routines to do a few things. First, (and most importantly) they need to keep kids safe. Relatedly, they should save time, be fun and engaging, and be super clear for all of our students.

To dive a bit deeper, the type of systems that teachers might need depends on a few factors. The student’s grade level, the content, and the physical layout of the space are all important considerations. For example, we have all of our teachers and students work on their transitions into the classroom each day. We want that entrance to be done safely, but we also want to ensure that our students get a super warm welcome and know exactly what they need to do to get ready for the day.

Below you’ll find more specific steps on how to establish routines in your own classroom:

How to Establish & Reinforce Systems


Tip 1: Plan Out Your Routines

Think through what routines and systems you might need to do each day. Whether you’re a Pre-Kindergarten teacher or are working with students in AP Physics, there are always systems and processes in your classroom that happen frequently.

How can you ensure that each time students enter, pass in their homework, or line up for recess that it’s a process that runs smoothly? How can you arrange your space to accommodate and support your systems? Think through your classroom and the physical space to see what you can change.

Tip 2: Roll it Out & Practice
If you ask us, the key to a high-functioning system is one that the teacher makes sure is done exceptionally well consistently. To do anything well repeatedly takes practice, especially with students who often have their own ideas sometimes!

Introduce your systems early and give students multiple opportunities to practice successfully. Break it down into steps and praise your students when they do it flawlessly. Make sure they get the opportunity to have multiple opportunities, both when you roll out the routine and throughout the year.

Tip 3: Respond Immediately and Positively
As the teacher, you are the key person who is going to make those systems perfect. To do that, you’re going to need to course correct. We have found that staying optimistic and giving bite-sized, manageable steps that students can practice lead to strong outcomes. Relatedly, there should be time set into your class or day to really get those systems down, especially in the first few days and weeks. During that practice time, make sure you aren’t multitasking and you’re being both clear and vigilant about what you’re communicating and what you’re looking for. Of course, there are going to be times where not every student gets it right. That’s okay! If necessary, have the students (or class) repeat it, and praise them when they get it right!

Tip 4: Get feedback
We love feedback at Rocketship, and it’s something we always use to improve. Ask your Principal or manager to come in and observe you. If needed, try out video, too. Record a transition you’re looking to get better at and share it with a mentor or a teacher you trust. As you probably know, teaching is hard. Just like we have to give our students multiple chances to get it right, we have to allow the same grace for our own work. Making sure we’re constantly thinking about how to run a safer and more efficient classroom is the hallmark of what great teaching is, and it’s a great practice to seek out help from time to time!

Now that you’ve learned how to develop strong classroom systems and routines, let’s get to the fun stuff. Learn ‘How to Build a Strong Classroom Culture’ in this next article.

Published on September 26, 2020

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