Having basic classroom procedures in place can make your school days run so much more smoothly! Everyone knows where materials belong and what to do in common situations (like when your pencil needs to be sharpened or when it’s time to walk in the hallway). This means fewer interruptions when you’re working with kids, and so much more order and organization! We asked veteran teachers to share their favorite 2nd grade classroom procedures and we got hundreds of fantastic tips!
Read on to find out some teacher favorite classroom procedures for:
Check out 2nd Grade Classroom Procedures (Part 2) for more teacher recommendations about transitions, leaving the room, giving directions, spelling, sight words, morning routines, student participation, behavior management/ reward systems, attention getters, small groups, and how to end the day or week.
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Instead of tossing empty tissue boxes, cut them up to make bookmarks. Second graders are always obsessed with bookmarks! They can have as many as they want because there’s a never-ending supply.
- Adopt a “pencil upgrade” system. If a student doesn’t have a pencil, have students who do have pencils hold theirs up if they want an upgrade. The teacher says, “Pencils up!” then chooses the oldest looking one and gives it to the student who didn’t have one. The student who shared their old one gets a new neon Ticonderoga with a cap eraser as a thank you for sharing.
2. Pencil Wars: Solve the problem of lost and destroyed pencils in the classroom! (This tip is adapted from Mrs. Hazelton’s free resource, “Winning The Pencil War“.)
- Give each student their own pencil pouch with 8 sharpened pencils.
- They keep track of their pencils all week.
- Collect the pouches on Friday.
- Reward the ones who kept all 8 pencils in good condition.
3. Here’s another version of pencil wars called “the pencil challenge”. This eliminates the need for students to have to leave their seats in search of a pencil AND saves pencils in the classroom!
- Provide each student with a plastic toothbrush case. Tell them these are their pencil cases for the week.
- At the beginning of the year give students one case with 5 pencils in it.
- At the beginning of each week, pass out pencils if a child doesn’t have 5 in their case.
- Conduct a “pencil challenge check” each Friday and reward the kiddos with a small candy if they still have 5 sharpened pencils in the case.
Velcro cups to tables and desks to use as supply holders. This way there won’t be any lost pencils or erasers… and SO much less mess inside desks!
Clean Up Time
Start a “One Scrap Club”
Teach your students how to cut around something one time around. It saves the floor and tables from those teeny little pieces that are not fun to clean up. As soon as they have cut what they need, they say “one scrap club” and put the one scrap in the recycling bin. Your custodian will love how clean your floors are AND you’re teaching a type of problem solving and peer encouragement!!!
Individual Garbage Dump:
When lots of cutting is involved, tell students to put the garbage in their “garbage dump.” It’s just under their chair, but it cuts down on lost pieces and getting out of their seats after every cut. At the end, tell them to “take out the trash” and they know they have permission to move about and recycle the scraps. Also, challenge them to have as few pieces of garbage as possible, with the goal of there being only one piece. Many will figure out a way to cut so there are no pieces of garbage and they think it’s the coolest thing!
At the end of the day when you want the floor left clean, announce that you see some secret trash. (Have a couple things in mind in case students find the one right away.) You’ll be shocked to see kids scurry around and pick up so fast! When it’s been enough time and the floor looks pretty good, share who found it and give that person a small prize. Kids love this game and the classroom gets cleaned in record time!
Secret Trash Variations:
- Teachers have lots of cute names for this: Magic Trash, Mystery Trash, Secret Scrap, Lucky Piece of Trash, Treasure Trash, Magic Scrap.
- Call it “secret job,” “ten second tidy” or “Mystery Item” so they can also look for items left out like books or scissors.
- Add “tape club” when the floor is especially dirty with pencil shavings or other small trash. Make loops of masking tape with the sticky side out and have kids put it over their hands to clean up those little bits on the floor!
- “Find it and fix it”. Similar to magic trash but it can also be something that needs to be fixed like a desk that needs to be straightened or something that needs to be put away.
Randomly reward your students for keeping their desks and supplies organized with a visit from the desk fairy! Have another teacher or staff member leave prizes on clean desks when the class is out of the room. This could be a small eraser, treat, or class coupon. Download these super cute free desk fairy notes.
Desk cleaning procedure
When it’s desk cleaning time, many kids spread all of their belongings all over the floor, often creating an even bigger mess that takes SO long to clean up. You can avoid this scenario by modeling a simple desk cleaning procedure:
- Books, folders, notebooks on your chair.
- Supplies box/bag on top of the book pile.
- Find all loose supplies and put them in your supply case.
- Personal items/toys that snuck into desks get put into backpacks to go home.
- Should just be papers/garbage left-throw it away.
- Anything on the chair gets stacked back in the desk! Nothing should touch the floor!
At semester, play “yay or yuck” with name tags. Take them off desks at semester, and sort them into a yuck pile and a yay pile. The yays get a small prize and everyone gets fresh nametags. Do this again at the end of the year. You’ll be surprised how few “yucks” you will have in May!!
Rather than keeping track of a dozen or more classroom jobs each day, have two students a day that do all the jobs. Display a ‘Helper Chart.’ It’s really just a list of the kids in pairs with a magnet or a clothespin used to point to the daily helpers. At the end of the day, move the magnet or clothespin down to two new helpers. Tip: At the end of the year, auction all charts created by the class (including the Helper Chart) off as prizes. You may be surprised – EVERYONE wants that chart for their own home classrooms!
Helper Chart Variation: Put student numbers on two rings (boys/girls) and flip new numbers at the beginning of each week. These students are the line leaders and general helpers all week long.
Every spot at the table (or desk in a cluster of desks) has an assigned letter or color. Each letter corresponds to a table job.
- A – Paper Patrol (gets the correct number of papers for their table to pass out to their tablemates)
- B – Supply Manager (Passes out things like bottles of glue, watercolors, offices, things they don’t have at their tables)
- C – Trash Collector (in charge of the tidy tubs- table trash cans)
- D – On Vacation (substitute)
These are the only students that can assist with spills… water bottles, pencil boxes, whatever spills. Saves the whole class rushing over!
The weekly “Top Dog” does everything: lunch count, line leader, quiet game starter, pass out papers, etc. That person trains and helps the next week’s top dog and is the backup.
Apply for Class Jobs
Give students the same job all quarter, semester, or year. After about two weeks have them apply for their job by filling out a form with their top 4-5 picks. Depending on how many students you have, tell them they will at least get one of the jobs on their list.
When the teacher passes out a worksheet, students get a stamp if their name is on it by the time the “name stamper” gets to their desk. No more no-name papers!
Editors in Training
Keep your students from rushing through editing with this fun class job! Purchase cheap plastic glasses and lanyards for all students. Put in cards that say “editor in training,” give a lesson on what an editor does as a career, and make editing day a HUGE deal. They LOVE it!
Assign a colored folder for each subject: red = reading/writing, blue = math, green = science/social studies. You’ll be able to look quickly to see if everyone has the same colored folder.
Use folders for all center work. The two pockets are marked finished and unfinished. If at any point they finish their other assignments early and they have not finished work from a previous center, then they can complete their unfinished center work.
Use three colored folders stapled together for storing their writing. Red pockets = brainstorming and fresh starts, yellow = in process/ edit stage, green pockets = final copies and published.
Keep folders in table buckets to store all work for the day. (If a table has 6 students, there are 6 copies of everything they will need for the day). The table captains are the only ones who can distribute papers.
Folders for Writing:
Keep the final drafts of most student writings in a folder. At the end of the year, staple all the pieces together to make individual books.
When writing rough drafts, have students label and write their intro, each body paragraph, and conclusion on a separate piece of paper. They keep these in their writing folder. Then when it comes to writing a final good copy, staple their papers in the correct order. Teach them that as they copy, each time they turn the page to go to a new line and indent.
If you use some form of “classroom bucks” as an incentive, have students “pay” when they lose certain materials. For example, if they lose their dry erase marker then they have to “pay” three classroom bucks.
You can also charge fines for leaving the desk a mess at the end of the day, leaving water bottles or jackets… etc. It works wonders! Class money teaches so many skills and responsibility!
How to make classroom bucks: Shrink a dollar down on the copier and replace your picture for Washington!
Ideas when you have desks:
Keep magnet clips on the sides of students’ desks and clip unfinished work there! You can also write their names on the clips.
Use see-through folders so you can see their unfinished work! These sleeves can be clipped on the sides of desks as well.
Tape file folders to the front of students’ desks. All unfinished work goes there. Also, it’s easy to walk around to grade work while the class is out of the room.
Ideas that don’t require desks:
Keep file folder-sized pocket charts on the wall for holding unfinished student work. Each kid has a pocket & you can see at a glance who has work to complete. Bonus – the pocket folders keep work in a safe place out of their desk! You won’t lose track of who has not finished work and can’t remember who needs to finish before playing at recess.
Have the students put unfinished work on their clipboard and leave it in a bin by the door.
You can also use a milk crate with hanging folders for unfinished work.
Use chair pockets and slide their unfinished work in the pocket!
Keep unfinished work in Ketchup (catch up) folders inside desks. It’s always the first thing they do when they’re finished with everything else.
Ketchup & Pickles- Unfinished work to catch up on, they can pick which unfinished thing to do first. In centers, mustard & mayo- which is must do & may do
Turning In Papers/ Getting Materials
Passing Out Papers
Establish a “highway” around your classroom. Students go one direction to get materials and turn in papers. This way, they know it is one way traffic to get from their desk to the front of the room to their destination, and then to the back of the room to get back to their row and into their desk.
When passing out papers…take one pass the rest.
Turning In Papers
Use one turn in basket for all the things! Hang a tag on the front with the words “Wait! Did I write my name?” Here’s a free template to use in your classroom! Sooo many kids catch themselves before turning something in. Plus, teachers only have one thing to grab for checking work at home.
Assign each student a number in the same order that is in your grade book. Collect the papers in number order. That way if someone forgets their name you’ll know who it belongs to. After you grade them, they are already in order to put in the grade book and file.
When students turn in their papers, have them do it in reverse ABC order by last name. They will learn the order fairly quickly. Then if there happens to be a paper without a name, it is a breeze to figure it out.
When grading, circle anything that’s wrong. If they fix it, turn the circle into a smiley face! When assignments are completed together, they put a T on the top of their page which means completed “together”. You can do the same when assignments are corrected together.
Use three bins for student work. A green bin for completed work. A yellow bin for work that students are still finishing. And a blue bin for fast finisher activities. The only work/folder students keep in their desks is a writing folder, which is collected when it’s an assignment that needs to be graded. Everything else goes in a bin and stays out of their desks.
Names on Papers
Before students get started on assignments, get into the habit of chanting, “The first thing I do is always the same – I pick up my pencil and write my” and students respond with “name!”
Keep small class lists in a cup next to the “finished work” basket. This way as they turn things in, you can highlight their names on the list (you can also label it with the standard for easier grading later!)
Walking in the Hallway
Love Velcro numbers for floor/whole group time spots. Space them out and change number spots as needed. They also work well for line order when lining up. No more… so and so cut in line.
1- stand up
2- push in chair
3- walk to line
Adjustment: Have all the student numbers on a ring by the door. Flip it to a new number each day to select a line leader. So instead of (3) “walk to line”, say “Bob walk to line”. Then students all follow in “desk order”. If a kid isn’t ready to line up (maybe still cleaning up or grabbing his coat), the person who lines up behind him/her just leaves a space for them. Works so great!!
In the Hallway
Choose a “Mystery Walker” – one kid to watch while in the hallway. They don’t know who it is. When you get back to the room, if the child succeeds he/she gets a reward. If the child does not succeed, you never say who it was but the class knows if they misbehaved, they may have missed out. Tip: drawing a popsicle stick (I write a student name on each one) is a great physical, nonverbal reminder that you have a mystery walker you are watching. The Mystery Walker also earns the class a bonus point so they get kudos from their peers, too.
Before walking down the hall, put a number in your pocket. When you get back to the classroom, pull the number. If you never had to speak to that child about hallway behavior, he/she gets a piece of candy.
Play Game On – boys vs girls. When students are lined up and ready to transition to another room, say “game on”. Students know if they talk in the hallway, the other team gets a point. Keep a running total on the whiteboard. The team with the most points at the end of the week gets to choose a sucker from a jar. It never gets old and your class will receive compliments for their hallway behavior.
For any and all emergency drills use “safe, silent, serious”. In the hallways use “walking not talking”.
Take Home Folders
Use pocket folders with one side labeled as keep at home, the other is return to school. Use page protectors to put any info that should stay in there (schedule, calendar, tests scores) and also include their agenda. Keep take home folders in bookbags and ask that they come back to school every day
Keep hanging file box on your desk and sort student papers as you mark them. Easy to return to students and to hand out mail for home too.
Friday Folder – all stuff that doesn’t need to go home right away goes home on Fridays. Parents empty it and sign the log sheet. No more going to student mailboxes on a daily basis.
Extra Work/ Absent Students
Always copy 4 extras. Have a basket for all the extra papers.
Extra Papers bin…Put all the extra copies/handouts in a bin. If a student needs (or their parent requests) a new paper, it can be found in the bin. When it gets full, pull the top inch or so of papers (the most recent) off the top and then recycle the rest.
There you have it! We hope you found lots of useful tips to help streamline your 2nd grade classroom procedures! Join our Lucky 1st Grade Teacher or Lucky 2nd Grade Teacher Facebook groups for more priceless tips like these!
If you’re looking for more advice on how to get your classroom running like a well-oiled machine, here are a few posts you might enjoy: