10 Strategies Teaching Classroom Routines For Discipline

Smiling school kids sitting at desks in classroom

Maintaining a sense of order in your classroom is not just a matter of convenience; it's a fundamental aspect of being an effective teacher. To achieve this, one valuable approach is establishing Teaching Classroom Routines. These routines are the scaffolding that supports a conducive learning environment for both you and your students. Here, we'll delve deeper into the ten strategies that can help you create an organized and productive learning environment while emphasizing the importance of these routines.


Happy teacher during a class

1. Clear Expectations for Teaching Classroom Routines

Setting clear expectations is the cornerstone of any successful classroom routine. Beyond simply stating the rules, take the time to explain why these expectations are in place. Provide real-life examples of what constitutes appropriate behavior in various situations. Ensure students comprehend the rules and grasp the consequences of not adhering to them. Consistency is critical; by consistently enforcing these expectations, students clearly understand what is expected from them. Could you communicate your expectations from the beginning of the school year and consistently reinforce them?

2. Communicate the Rationale Behind Routines

It's not enough to dictate classroom routines; students benefit from understanding the "why" behind them. Explain to your students the purpose and benefits of each exercise. The rationale behind habits can vary widely, but it often ties back to the overall goals of the classroom. Understanding the underlying benefits makes students more likely to embrace and adhere to the routines. Ask them to brainstorm the advantages of a particular pattern or discuss how it contributes to a positive classroom environment. This involvement deepens their understanding and empowers them to take ownership of the ways.

3. Create a Consistent Routine

A consistent routine offers stability and predictability in the classroom, helping students feel secure and focused. It encompasses everything from how students enter and exit the classroom to group activities and clean-up procedures. Involving students in developing these routines empowers them and helps them take ownership of the classroom environment. They understand what is expected and can better participate in the exercises. Consistency also extends to your communication and enforcement of classroom rules and expectations.

4. Utilize Visual Aids

Visual aids play a pivotal role in reinforcing Teaching Classroom Routines. Visual aids are powerful tools for teaching and reinforcing classroom routines. They provide a clear and visual representation of what is expected, making it easier for students to understand and follow through. Consider the following ways to incorporate visual aids effectively:

  • Behavior Charts: Create a behavior chart with clear categories of expected behavior. Students adhering to these behaviors can move their markers or receive stickers as positive reinforcement. A behavior chart tracks progress and serves as a visual reminder of classroom expectations.
  • Instructional Posters: Create instructional posters that outline specific routines or procedures. Use step-by-step visuals and concise language to guide students through each routine. These posters can be handy for activities like classroom clean-up, group work, or using classroom technology.
  • Visual Timers: For timed routines or transitions, consider using visual timers. These timers provide a precise visual countdown, helping students manage their time effectively. Visual timers can be especially beneficial for activities that require students to complete tasks within a specified timeframe.

5. Prioritize Classroom Organization

Classroom organization is more than just a surface-level consideration; it deeply influences the effectiveness of teaching classroom routines. Here are some key aspects to prioritize when organizing your classroom:

  • Desk Arrangement: Arrange student desks or seating to facilitate smooth transitions and collaborative work. Please take into account the needs of your instructional routines when configuring seating arrangements.
  • Clear Signage: Label key classroom areas, such as the reading corner, math station, or science center. Clear signage helps students navigate the classroom and know where specific routines or activities occur.
  • Visual Organization: Use visual cues to organize materials, such as color-coding folders or using picture labels. Visual organization supports students, especially those who thrive with visual prompts.

6. Establish Smooth Transitions

Smooth transitions are a hallmark of well-implemented teaching classroom routines. To create seamless transitions, consider the following strategies:

  • Use Transition Signals: Signal transitions with auditory or visual cues, such as a bell, chime, or visual timer. These signals alert students to upcoming changes and help them mentally shift gears.
  • Provide Transition Warnings: Give students ample warning before transitions occur. Use phrases like "In five minutes, we will transition to our next activity" or Get ready to switch to your math groups.
  • Practice Transition Routines: Dedicate time to practice transition routines early in the school year. Model the expected behavior and allow students to rehearse the performances until they become second nature.

7. Implement Clear Procedures

Procedures are the backbone of teaching classroom routines, and they guide students in understanding how to navigate various aspects of the learning environment. Here are some standard classroom procedures and strategies for implementing them:

  • Assignment Submission: Establish procedures for how students submit assignments. This might include designated folders or trays where tasks are placed.
  • Questioning: Teach students how to ask questions or seek clarification. For instance, they can raise their hands, use designated question cards, or use a digital platform for submitting questions.
  • Materials Management: Define how students should manage materials, including where to find supplies, how to return them, and how to care for classroom resources.

8. Quiet Signals for Teaching Classroom Routines

Quiet signals are discrete ways to communicate expectations and redirect students' attention when needed. Here are some effective quiet signals and strategies for using them:

  • Verbal Cues: Develop short and clear verbal cues to remind students of expectations. Phrases like "Listen up, please" or "I need your attention" can be effective.
  • Non-Verbal Signals: Consider non-verbal signals like a designated location for quiet work or a specific hand signal that students can use to indicate they need assistance.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Reinforce the use of quiet signals with positive feedback. You could also praise students who respond quickly to a visual cue.

9. Allow for Short Breaks

Breaks are more than just moments of rest; they can be strategically integrated into teaching classroom routines. Here's how to effectively incorporate short breaks:

  • Timing: Determine when breaks will occur, such as after a mainly focused activity or at regular daily intervals.
  • Duration: Decide how long breaks will last, keeping them short to maintain productivity. A typical course might be five to ten minutes.
  • Purpose: Emphasize the sense of breaks, which is to help students recharge, refocus, and return to the next activity with increased attentiveness.

10. Encourage Self-Management

One of the ultimate goals of teaching classroom routines is to empower students to become self-regulated learners. To encourage self-management effectively, consider these strategies:

  • Problem-Solving Tasks: Present students with real-world scenarios or challenges that require them to apply problem-solving skills and make decisions independently.
  • Goal Setting: Engage students in setting achievable goals for their behavior and learning. Please encourage them to monitor their progress and make adjustments as needed.
  • Reflection: Incorporate regular opportunities for self-reflection. Ask students to evaluate their behavior, engagement, and adherence to routines. This reflection can lead to increased self-awareness and self-management.


Teaching Classroom Routines is a dynamic and ongoing process that evolves throughout the school year. It requires clear communication, consistency, and patience. When routines are effectively established and integrated into daily teaching practices, they are the backbone of a well-organized and productive classroom. Utilizing the above-given solutions can create an environment where teaching and learning thrive.