Back to the Basics: Explicit Routines and Procedures

By Eric Antuna on September 30, 2009

Since the introduction of four new students in my classroom, I have been working hard at trying to acclimate the new students to their new classroom. The introduction of the new students created a completely different atmosphere in my classroom - rightfully so, as they came from a different teacher. I had to start from scratch. Here are a few tips that have really helped me get the basics covered.


This week, I started Monday as I would start the beginning of any year. I met the students where they line up and ushered them into the classroom and sat them down. I called on them, asking their names, making sure that they understood that we were being introduced for the first time. I asked them to go over some rules. I playfully asked if they had the same rules in first grade despite it being week eight of second grade, and every single student played along. I use Chris Biffle's Power Teaching rules at


While introducing myself to the new students as their replacement teacher, I quickly wrote some procedures that I expected everyone to follow daily. Specifically, I was having trouble with students at transition periods – coming-in in the morning, after recess, after lunch, and last recess.

The simple lists of explicit instructions shown here has helped curb many of the behavior problems. They may seem rote and mundane, but the students look for them each day and after each transition. It has helped me become more efficient with my time and helps the students clearly understand what's expected of them. We'll see how this works as the weeks go on!


Do you have any ideas/experiences that we could relate to each other? Please share them here!

Thanks for reading!



By the way!

Scholastic News had a great issue in the September set. The issue in particular had different questions that students had to answer to see if they were a Super Star Second Grader.  It was a cut-in-half-and-staple mini book that students put into their book boxes.  We read it daily to remind them how to become a Super Star Second Grader! You can read about lesson ideas and printables here.


ok, this could be my life!! After the first grade teachers carefully created classlists, 4 new students were put into my class without any thought of what could go wrong. Well, what could go wrong, did go wrong!!! We follow Responsive Classroom from Northeast Foundation and clearly the first 6 weeks of school will last a lot longer!!! Any suggestions would help. I have been teaching for 18 years and am always looking for new solutions to old problems!!! Thanks.


I feel your pain! I really have just been very carefully going over routines daily. Rules, rules, rules! This has been the best solution so far. We're still working on it, making sure we know what we're supposed to do when we get back in from recess or lunch. Please keep me posted on what happens in your class! Good Luck!


Eric I like the way you are sharing common situations that we all are running into...and you continue to emphasize the positives about teaching! I really like your blog and feel that you bring a real teacher's perspective to the Classroom Solutions area. Good job!


Thanks for the positive comment - I really appreciate it! It's so important for us to stay positive with all the things we do, especially because the little ones are relying on us to give them the opportunity to do great things!



Thanks for the post. I too have been though classroom changes with difficult transitions. This year our Title program made some changes and therefor the end of September brought a schedule change for me to deal with. The day I read your post I created my routines posters for our new routine and now we read them before each transition. The transition has been very smooth and I see my second graders look to the posters often these last two days.


I feel your pain! All I can say is keep up the great work with them - it will pay off. This week has gone by so much smoother! Please let me know how it goes, I'd love to know!

Good luck!


I went through this same situation last year- four new students entered my classroom September 10th. It changed the atmosphere a little, but everyone accepted them quickly. They became more acclimated in their second week or so- and became a few of the stronger students in my class! Good luck, Eric- I know it is very difficult.


Thanks! I am really feeling better about it now. There's just been so much going on and it feels like the first week of school despite being in about 8 weeks! Thanks again for the kind words.


Eric, You are so right about transitions being the most challenging times. However, if you spend that extra time in the beginning, it pays off throughout the year. Great advice. Thanks. Cyndee


Thanks for the comment! I'm already seeing the benefits now. I feel I can breathe again. :)


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