For the first week of school, effective teachers always have a classroom management plan with all the procedures necessary for a classroom to run smoothly. Doing classroom management in the first week of school is like building tracks. The learning trains can run efficiently only when the tracks are solid and consistent. Of course, it’s important to every grade, but I always feel that third grade is the transitioning grade when our students need to get ready to be role models for most of the rest students in the same school. Therefore, we need to think about our classroom management plan thoroughly to start our year off right.
No teacher can teach without doing classroom management.
I still remember how lost I was during my first year when I didn’t take my time to set up routines but jumped to academic learning. That turned out to be a disaster, and later I had to stop in the middle of a unit to come back and revisit procedures and routines.
In this post, I am going to share my classroom management plan for the first week of school in third grade. Of course, there is no perfect plan. Every teacher is different. So does every class.
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1. Day 1 (Classroom Mangement Focus: icebreakers/routines/rules)
If parents send their kids to your classroom, then you need to greet them at the door. Make sure you have clear written instructions on your board or a printed version on each table so those who have already arrived can be independent.
I always put a student survey or a name tag activity for students to do during this time. Or you may consider some All About Me activities. Here are some new, fun, and creative All About Me activities for this special year:
Make sure students have sticky name tags to write their names and then stick them on themselves. So later you can learn their names and connect names to faces.
I let students pick their own seats on the first day since I don’t really know them and I want to see the interactions among them. After several days of observation, I will adjust the seating to make sure it’s the best for learning.
When everyone has arrived, gather them in the meeting area. Now is the time for you to introduce yourself. After that, ask students to briefly introduce themselves. Provide sentence frames and ask guided questions to help them. Next, you may do an ice-breaking activity to help everyone learn more about each other.
Later, you may give students a classroom tour to show them different areas in the classroom. For example, tell them where they should put their school bags, water bottles, snacks, homework, etc. Besides, introduce the libraries, bulletin boards, word walls, or other areas in the classroom.
If students are going to a cafeteria for lunch, make sure you have some time for them to practice lining up. I usually have two lines–one boy line and one girl line, and I line them up based on their heights (from the shortest to the tallest).
In the afternoon, spend some time talking about classroom routines. There are many routines for each classroom. For instance, morning routine, bathroom routine, meeting area routine, dismissal routine, etc. Since you will dismiss your class soon, make sure you talk about the dismissal routine, then the morning routine today.
The next important thing you want to cover today is the classroom rules. Some lower-grade teachers may give students the rules as students may not know much about the rules. However, in third grade, I want to hear more students’ voices. I like to discuss the rules with the students. We talk about what rules we should include and why.
You don’t need many rules. Usually, 5-6 rules are enough. Pick the most important ones as too many rules are easy to forget and hard to carry out. Besides, make sure you write them in child-friendly language.
After that, I will write all the rules we agree upon on a big poster and put that up on the wall next to our door. Therefore, everyone can see the rules clearly every day when they enter the classroom.
Last but not least, if you want your students to bring their own supplies. Make sure you have copies of a supply list ready for everyone to bring home. Also, explain the things on the supply list and tell them why they need these things for this school year.
I start giving homework on the first day of school as parents expect homework and students need to get used to having homework every day after summer vacation. Today’s homework is to draw a picture of their dream classroom and buy supplies.
2. Day 2 (Classroom Mangement Focus: routines/rewards & consequences/libraries)
Today, your students will come to your classroom with bags of supplies. Collect all the supplies and put them in a corner of your classroom first. You may also spend some time checking if each student has brought everything on the list. I usually circle the things students don’t bring and send the supply list home again.
You need to talk about and reinforce classroom routines every day, especially in the first week of school. Therefore, today you also need some time for the routines. For example, if the morning routine is not very smooth this morning, practice it with them.
On day one, you and your students have come up with the classroom rules. Today, you may talk about rewards and consequences. That is if students follow the rules well or they have very good behavior, what they can get from you. Also, if they don’t behave, what consequences they will have.
Every teacher has his or her own system. You may use points, stickers, tickets, etc.
No matter which system you choose, you should have it ready on three levels–individual, group, and class.
Level 1: Individual Level
Individual rewards or consequences system means you reward or give consequences to each student because of his or her behavior.
For me, I like to use those lottery tickets, and I have a treasure box with students’ favorite things inside. I tell my students that everything inside the box has a price (such as 10 tickets for a notebook), and they need to work hard to have enough tickets to redeem the things they want. I also tell my students that if they lose their tickets, they are responsible for that. Additionally, if they misbehave, I have the right to take tickets back any time.
Level 2: Group Level
Group level means you reward or give consequences to each student group based on the group’s performance.
Giving group rewards can help students build teamwork spirit and realize the importance of helping and supporting each other.
As for the rewards, you may give each member in the best group a small gift. I don’t like to tell students what the gifts will be. Instead, I’d like to keep it a secret and surprise them at the end of every month. This way, students are more interested in the gifts and they really want to do a good job.
Level 3: Class Level
A positive and caring class atmosphere is a prerequisite for learning to happen. Therefore, building class spirit is also important.
I have two activities for this:
Activity 1: Collecting Stars
The first is called “collecting stars”. Every time, the class does a great job, I give the class a star. When they reach up to, for example, 25 stars, we can have a party to celebrate or watch a movie, etc.
Activity 2: The Mysterious Student
Another activity is called “the mysterious student”. Here is how I do it: at the beginning of a week, I tell my class that this week I have a mysterious student, and I am going to pay particular attention to his/her behavior. However, I will not tell them who he/she is and will not give any clues, either. That’s because the most interesting part of this activity is to keep it mysterious and let every student think, “I may be the mysterious student, so I have to behave to win a star for my class.”
If the student does a great job over the week, release his/her name and give the class a reward, for example, a star from the first activity. However, if the student doesn’t do a very good job, then you don’t have to say the name, but tell the class that you want to give that person another chance next week.
The best part of this activity is, as the teacher, you can always change the name in your mind. Your ultimate goal is to make sure the class behaves, good behavior students are acknowledged, and poor behavior students are improving.
In the afternoon, you may teach a mini-lesson on how to pick the right books. This is very important because some students may not remember their reading levels, and some just pick books with an interesting cover. That’s not what we want. Next, introduce your library rules, such as when you want students to change their books, how many books you want them to keep in their book baggies, etc.
After that, you can help students set up their book baggies. Simply use large-size Ziploc bags or cloth bags. Make sure students have their names on their book baggies. Then, let them shop for books group by group.
If you still have time, you can talk about reading logs. Introduce the reading log you want them to use, and show them how to fill out the reading log. Tell them when they need to submit their reading log, where to keep or get new reading logs, etc.
For homework today, I want students to start independent reading at home for at least 30 minutes. For those, who haven’t got all the supplies, they need to get supplies ASAP.
3. Day 3 (Classroom Mangement Focus: routines/supplies/jobs)
Today, you still need to spend time practice any routines you think are necessary for your class. Apart from that, you may want to talk about independent reading expectations and rules. Make it very clear to your students about what they are supposed to do during that time whether at school or at home. We want to do everything we can to prevent fake reading or any other time-wasting behavior.
By today, most of the students should have their supplies ready. So it’s time for you and your students to label and organize everything.
I usually collect paper towels, tissue boxes, hand sanitizers, Ziploc bags and store them in my closet because we use these things as a class.
For personal supplies, such as pencils, markers, crayons, scissors, glues, sticky notes, I will give each student a bag for them to put everything inside, then write their names on the bags.
For folders and notebooks, I want students to write the subject names on them. I know some teachers have different colors for different subjects. For example, a green folder for math. I agree that color code everything can definitely make it easier and more organized for our students.
After all, how to organize these supplies can vary greatly among teachers. You decide what’s the best plan for your class.
Besides that, you may want to introduce the classroom jobs and expectations for each job.
For homework today, let students think about what jobs they want to apply for and why. So tomorrow you can start to assign classroom helper jobs.
4. Day 4 (Classroom Mangement Focus: bookmarks/jobs/photos)
Same as the days before, take your time to practice routines and procedures with your students.
If you want, you can make some bookmarks with your students. On the bookmarks, students can write their reading levels or reading goals. These are some bookmarks my students made. Click here or the picture below to purchase.
Following yesterday’s homework, you can ask students to share and apply for jobs they want to do. Provide them with sentence frames or talking prompts to help them.
If you want to take photos of students to display in your classroom or for other activities, you can use some time to take photos.
In the afternoon, you can do some social-emotional learning activities with your students. Or have students write their goals for their third grade.
For homework today, you can start giving some academic homework and ask students to continue independent reading at home.
5. Day 5 (Classroom Mangement Focus: Anything you need more time to work on)
Today, you may spend most of the time on anything you think you need to revisit. If you think all the procedures are there and students are ready to learn, you can move on to academic learning.
Because of holidays in September, our first weeks of school are usually not full weeks. Thus, I have a more tight schedule to get all the top objectives done in the first week of school. No matter how many days you have, just make sure all the procedures and routines are covered, and students are getting to know each other and building good relationships before you move on to academic learning.
To sum up, I have briefly mentioned the things I would do in my first week of school. Of course, every teacher and class is different. I just hope that my plan can give you a little idea or inspiration about your upcoming first week of school.
Want to know more? Join me on Instagram @eurekasheets! I share lots of teaching ideas and tips there.
Have fun with your students,