How To End Each Day On The Right Classroom Management Foot

It’s easy to get careless with classroom management during the last ten or fifteen minutes of the school day.

This is why it’s so common to see misbehavior at dismissal—swinging backpacks, chasing, shouting, pushing, roughhousing…students wound up and tuned out, oblivious to your warnings and exhortations.

The problem with this, beyond the immediate chaos and misbehavior, is that students strongly associate the last few minutes of the day with the culture of your classroom.

Thus, by not leading your students through this critical time period calmly and purposefully, you’re making a mistake that has ramifications far beyond those few minutes.

This is why it’s critical to end each school day—or class period for middle school teachers—with the same detailed routine, winding down to a peaceful, happy dismissal.

Here are a few steps to making your final routine a positive association for your students and a stress-free, misbehavior-free one for you:

Pause

Before beginning your end-of-day routine, it’s important to mentally clear the previous activity for your students. After asking them to put away their books, materials, and distractions, signal for their attention.

As soon as they’re attentive, pause for 30 seconds. Let them take a quiet moment to gather themselves and breathe off any residual energy. This pause will mark for your students the beginning of the day’s final routine.

Cleanup

The responsibility for straightening and tidying up the classroom should fall on your students. Contributing to the common good helps them build a sense of pride in their classroom—while at the same time encouraging individual humility.

It also sends the message that yours is a classroom of doers, that the world wasn’t created to wait on them. It only takes a minute or two for your students to pick up the floor around them, align desks, and make sure books and materials are stored neatly.

Homework

Homework should be assigned, explained, and checked for understanding earlier in the day and immediately following your lesson (on the homework topic). It should never, ever be shoehorned in at the end of the day.

You should, however, as part of your routine, make sure your students have everything they need to successfully complete it. Have them prove their readiness by stacking their homework materials neatly on their desk, with their assignment notebook open on top.

Handouts

If you want to make sure handouts get home, pass them out yourself—while your students remain quiet. Place them on top of their homework stack while you make a quick visual check and confirm their readiness.

Using mailboxes or cubbies or assigning jobs to students for passing out flyers and handouts often causes more problems than it solves. Plus, you’ll find this visual check an important key to getting homework back the next day.

Backpacks

After another lengthy pause, call on one row or table group to retrieve their backpacks and place their homework materials and handouts inside. Give them no more than 30 seconds.

When they finish have them sit back down and put their backpacks on the floor at their side. Then call your next group. In time your class will become fast and efficient, finishing in just a couple minutes.

Silence

After every student has finished and is quiet, ask for one minute of silence. This is a wonderful way to reflect on the mistakes and successes of the day and shake out the excitement of the impending dismissal.

It’s best to simply sit or stand in front of them. Refrain from doing any busywork. You need a moment too. If you like, you can put some classical music on in the background or lead them in a few deep, relaxing breaths.

Line Up

Ask your students to stand up, put on their backpack, and stand quietly behind their chair. Use the power of one and ask a single student to line up first. Then call one table group or row at a time.

Once in line, walk them out to the same predetermined dismissal spot every day. Regardless of whether it’s school procedure to do so, do it anyway. When you reach your spot, send them on their way.

Teach & Practice

Keep your routine simple and specific and do it the same way every day. Before long it will run like a well-oiled machine; not robotic mind you, not militaristic, but a relaxed, efficient, peaceful way to end the day.

Before putting your routine into practice, however, it’s important to teach it thoroughly using detailed modeling and repetition. Once your students prove they can do it correctly, you’re ready to roll.

A Happy Bid Goodbye

By making the last 10-15 minutes of each day a choreographed routine, you’ll have zero behavior problems, your students will be much better prepared to complete their homework, and you’ll guarantee yourself a pleasant ending to every school day.

When you arrive with your class at your predetermined goodbye spot, make it a point to bump fists or shake hands with each student, in modest celebration of another great day.

Big smiles, happy students, a final reminder that your classroom is a special place.

A place both they, and you, love being a part of.

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14 Responses to How To End Each Day On The Right Classroom Management Foot

  1. teachermrw February 11, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

    Great post. Something I don’t do as well as I ought to. Thank you for the suggestions. 🙂

  2. Bonita Mowat February 12, 2012 at 12:54 am #

    I totally agree with this article! The last 10-15 mins of the day is a relaxed time where we reflect on the day, finish on a positive note with even a cuddle for those who want one.

  3. Victoria Miles February 12, 2012 at 3:56 pm #

    Such an important concept. Why should we feel frazzled at the end of the class or day? There is no need if we have as orderly an ending as we did a class period.

    I also love the idea of having students clean up their areas at the end of the class. The last few minutes of each class my students look around their desks and pick up even small scraps of paper. One of the nicest things a custodian ever said to me was, “do you really have students in this room during the day or do you teach somewhere else?” *grin*

    • Michael Linsin February 12, 2012 at 6:17 pm #

      Hi Victoria,

      I always appreciate your comments.

      :)Michael

  4. Wendy February 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

    This is ideal, but not always feasible. My biggest problem is getting my whole instructional time in, only to have the end of the cut early with “early dismissals” and End of the day announcements coming on 5 minutes earlier than usual. Don’t the powers that be know every five minutes count?

  5. Lorraine Shaifer-Harriman January 22, 2013 at 1:16 pm #

    Your comments are very helpful, an appreciated.

  6. christina June 9, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    I love your site and your ideas. Any suggestions for a short 3-4 minute end of class routine for 45 min high school periods?

    • Michael Linsin June 9, 2013 at 7:54 am #

      Hi Christina,

      There are any number of ways you can finish your periods, depending on the subject and your teaching style. The key is that they do something, that you finish each period the exact same way. It can even be the final one minute of class–returning materials, straighten work areas, getting quiet and waiting for your final thoughts or assignments.

      Michael

  7. Jess September 18, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    Hi Michael,
    What would you suggest if ‘bussers’ and after-school program students are dismissed from the classroom at the first bell, and walkers are walked out by you to the predetermined spot 5 minutes later. How would you keep the sense of calm for five more minutes without having them antsy in line for 5 minutes? We’ve tried math fact cards held up by the Teacher Assistants of the day.

    • Michael Linsin September 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm #

      Hi Jess,

      Gosh, five minutes? I would use the time to tell a story, review the good day, or preview what’s in store for the next. Giving them a chance to visit with friends before beginning the end-of-day routine also works.

      Michael

  8. Jess September 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    How about a read-aloud from a chapter book? That way we could leave off wherever and sit on the rug listening to the story together until the bell rings?

    • Michael Linsin September 18, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

      Definitely! Plus, reading aloud is one of the great joys of teaching.

      :)Michael

  9. Jess November 12, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    How do you encourage the students who are waiting to get called to pack up, or who are already back from packing up, to stay quiet?

    • Michael Linsin November 13, 2013 at 7:18 am #

      Hi Jess,

      You have to practice your routine how you want it–whether that includes any talking or not–and then hold them to it using your classroom management plan.

      Michael