It would be hard to overstate how important a regular school schedule is to the success of your elementary students.
Humans of all ages simply like comfortable routines...we like to know what's going to happen next. Sometimes it is good to shake up a routine to get out of a rut, but that’s not true in your elementary school classroom.
In your classroom, the faster you can establish a schedule, the better off your students will be.
I start working on a schedule from the very first day. As I outline in my first days of school articles, a definite schedule tells the children immediately that they are "in school" and it's time to learn and not play. (Okay, we do play a little bit, but you get the idea).
I take my classroom schedule so seriously that I post it on the white board every day, and my children have come to rely upon that. If your classroom is filled with kids who are always asking "what's next?" then I recommend putting a few notes up each morning telling them what to expect.
Just like adult participants in a training session or seminar, everyone wants to know what's on the agenda for the day.
This lack of ambiguity about the school schedule can be particularly important to children who are prone to anxiety or those (such as children on the Autism Spectrum) who crave structure and order in their lives.
Simply having a set routine in the schedule — even one that may change depending upon the day the week — can go a long way toward alleviating their concerns about coming to school.
Aside from the calming effects of a regular classroom schedule, it is very important to understand its impact on your ability to get through all of the content that you must cover. There is an awful lot to teach our kids and the amount that is expected goes up with each grade level.
Without schedules, teachers find themselves chronically short of time at the end of day and end of the week (and even the end of the year) for getting through all the required content.
Every day that you slip behind adds up until finally, you find yourself without time to do the final chapter in math or the final lesson in reading even though these skills will be tested on a high-stakes assessment.
I realized pretty quickly that a well-developed school schedule is critical for continuing to push through content while allowing plenty of time for review and re-teaching.
In this section, I’m going to take you minute-by-minute through a typical day in my classroom, starting out on the blacktop before the first bell even rings.
I think you'll enjoy it a lot, so come with me as we head downstairs at 8:50 in the morning to grab those excited little learners who are ready to start another day.
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8:50 AM - Greeting Students
Building community before the first bell
8:55 AM - Beginning the Entry Task
Starting the day with curriculum
9:00 AM - Math Entry Tasks
An ideal starter for student focus
9:15 AM - Correcting the Entry Task
How we share solutions about school day's first assignment
9:20 AM - Self-Scoring for Reinforcement
Student-teacher communication through entry task corrections
9:25 AM - Moving On to Our Day's Work
Wrapping up the entry task
9:30 AM - Whiteboard Activities
Number strings (related problem sets)
9:45 AM - Teaching Mathematics
Math mini-lessons and practice
10:30 AM - Students Who Finish Early
Helping faster learners and managing classroom transitions
10:30 AM - Elementary Science Activities
Bringing the wonderful world of science to children
10:30 AM - Teaching Social Studies
Elementary learners and social studies projects