Having basic classroom procedures in place means fewer interruptions when teachers are working with kids, better organization, and lower stress overall! We asked veteran 2nd grade teachers to share their favorite classroom procedures and we got hundreds of fantastic tips.
In this post you’ll fall in love with teachers’ creative ideas about how to structure:
Head over to our “2nd Grade Classroom Procedures Part 1” post for teacher advice about: supplies, clean up time, organizing materials, class helpers, unfinished work, walking in the hallway, take home folders, how to handle absent students, names on papers, and turning In assignments.
1- Set up a transition slideshow with timers and built in brain breaks. You can set it up on PowerPoint and then add to Google Slides.
2- Use music for transitions! Select songs to cue “get ready to do something” time and “clean up” time.
Leaving the Room
1- Teach your students sign language! Establish signs (hand signals) for restroom, water fountain, need help, need a tissue, etc.“Thumbs up when you are ready” always works great too. You could teach students “R” for restroom, “W” for water, and “question mark” for question. With hand signals, you’ll immediately know what a kid needs without it interrupting the lesson.
2- Set up a bathroom buddy system for the boys and one for the girls. Basically, this is an object that kids place on their desks before they leave to use the bathroom. If the buddy is on someone’s desk, you have to wait until he is free before you go. The best part is that kids totally regulate this themselves. There aren’t groups of kids in the bathroom together and they don’t ask the teacher to go all day!
Bathroom buddy variations: individual sticks in a cup, bottle of hand sanitizer
3- When the whole class has to leave together, train kids to follow the 1-2-3 process:
- “1”…(kids know this means they make a snowball with their hands on their desk).
- “2”…(kids stand up silently push in their chairs and stand facing their desk with hands behind their back).
- “3”…(kids line up in abc order).
1- Give directions by “3-peating”. Ask kids to repeat three times what the direction is. For example, “Turn to page 37 in your math book.” Students repeat “page 37, page 37, page 37”.
2- Use a code word when giving directions. Afterwards, say the code word and then they know they can begin.
3- Write a magic word on the board. The students can’t move to the next activity or take out their supplies until it’s been said. This works great for a call and response too! Try to incorporate new vocabulary. When the teacher says the magic word, the kids respond with the definition, then clap. The possibilities are endless, but it really helps them listen to ALL of the directions before just jumping in (and reinforces new vocabulary!)
- Magic word: synthesize. Kids say, “Put it all together” and clap
- Magic word: perseverance. Kids say, “I will keep going!” and clap
- Magic word: courage. Kids say, “I’m bigger than my fears!” and clap
Magic Word Variation: Write the magic word on the board every day, and announce it to the class. It can be anything – unicorn, popcorn, stinky feet, etc! When giving directions, announcing something important, or in the middle of a lesson, throw in the magic word. The first student to raise their hand gets a Dojo point or other reward.
4- Ketchup, Mustard and Pickle Time!
- Ketchup = tasks students need to catch up on, whether it’s with the teacher, a para, or on their own.
- Mustard = things they must do first.
- Pickle = free choice, but only from the list provided, which always includes educational things for them to do. Early finisher packets work great as one of the fun but also educational pickle choices!
5- Display something on the board like “draw a heart next to your name.” If kids do that they get a bonus point or some other type of reward. Leave it up for a couple minutes so if they’re paying attention they do it automatically. Kids love it! Plus, it really shows who is paying attention to directions.
6- Say the following when you’re about to test or get started on class work:
1,2 – Paper towards you
3,4 – Feet on the floor
5,6 – Pick up your stick (pencil)
7,8 – Scoot in with your back up straight
9,10 – Let’s begin!
7- Call Out Ideas:
- “Show me you are listening” (students hold empty hands up and focus on the teacher)
- “Hocus Pocus – Everybody Focus”
- “Macaroni-n-Cheese – everybody freeze”
- “Andy’s coming” (students either put their heads on desk or fall to the floor if standing (like the toys do) until they are told “coast is clear”.)
- “Class, class, class?” (Students respond,“Yes, yes, yes.”)
8- When giving a page number, say it a few times, but also write it in a designated place on the dry erase board with a marker that has a little bell attached. This way, even if students don’t hear the teacher say it, they know where to look on the board. The bell is an extra attention grabber for them to know, “I need to pay attention to this!”
9- Director of Directions: Choose a random student every day to be the director of directions. After I giving directions once, students must ask the director if they forgot the directions. No more repeating directions over and over!
10- Call out, “pencils on name tags” before and during focused lessons.
1- Give super sentence rules at top of page and if they don’t follow the rules they have to correct them. (Eg capitalization, punctuation, 5-7 words per sentence, neat, makes sense, don’t repeat words). Download super sentence rules here.
2- The best way to teach spelling rules and develop writing at the same time: Ask students to write sentences with their spelling words each week. Require only 3-5 spelling words at first and have kids bring them to you when they finish to quick conference for immediate feedback. Write which spelling rules they broke on the side of each sentence and have them go back and fix them. Increase the amount of spelling words as they get faster. Around midyear, increase the amount of words required in each sentence and discuss adding detail/adjectives to each noun. Also, increase the frequency to about 2 days a week. Third grade teachers will be impressed with their spelling, vocabulary, idea development, and overall writing abilities next year!
Tip: You can help them develop ideas. In fact, it should be very guided at first. Some will say “I can’t think of anything” and it’s okay to give them the sentence right at first until they see how you come up with ideas. Modeling helps!
Set up differentiated sight word cards for each student.
It is easy to set up: Students bring sight word cards to the teacher during small groups and read what they know. This goes quick. Have some read them while waiting for everyone to join the group and then others read them while doing an independent task to warm up at the table. Stamp or checkmark each word that’s read correctly. After three stamps or checks they are allowed to remove the card and add a new one. Tip: For younger or struggling students, give only 5 to 10 cards at a time.
Variation: Try Sight Word Fluency Sticks to help your students master their sight word fluency!
1- Give students the opportunity to share what’s on their minds every morning. Even if it’s in partners and only a few students share whole group every day, this will help the transition between home and school!
2- Have kids get their mail in the morning when they first come in instead of at the end of the day. Having that taken care of first thing helps make pack up time more calm and less chaotic. If more papers come in during the day to be sent home, it’s usually no problem to wait until the next morning. Every once in a while there will a be a paper from the office that needs to go home that day, but it rarely happens.
3- Play a special song such as the Star Wars theme song every morning to signal the start of morning meeting!
4- Have a list of “to dos” before morning work starts. A cute idea is to call it “Rock Star Ready” and as kids arrive they get “Rock Star Ready”. Just say ,”Please get Rock Star Ready.” After announcements, do a quick check to make sure all tasks are completed and you’re ready for the day!
5- Have a morning message on the board when students come in. Ask questions like, “Would you rather ___ or ___?” or “What was the highlight of your weekend?” etc. Every day write something different. Your students will look forward to it when they come in, plus it gives them either something to share in morning meeting or to write about in their journals.
6- Take attendance with an attendance board. Kids each have a number magnet and they put it either in cafeteria or lunchbox. This makes it super easy for to do attendance and lunch count each morning.
7- Set up an important notes basket. Instead of handing all the things kids come in with directly to the teacher or piling them all over the teacher desk, have a basket they put things in. It’s easy to go through it while kids are doing morning work.
8- Set the stage for a great day with morning meetings!
1- Clap for everything to build a culture of love and respect! Someone gets an answer right? Clap! If the answer is wrong, still clap for trying. Variation: clap in sign language with a silent cheer!
2- Use class cheers. Dr. Jean has some great ones! (See video below.) Learn 1-2 a week at the beginning of the year and you’ll be set!!
3- Use a doorbell signal for choral response for most answers. After appropriate think time and silent signals that they’ll be ready with an answer.
4- Learn the words yes and no in sign language! It helps when you’re in a small group or in the hall and need to correct behavior without talking. Restroom, stop, and sit down are good signs to use.
5- Don’t tape nametags to the tops of desks! Write names on desks with sharpie paint pen and kids use dry erase on their desk tops for a huge workspace.
6- Buy little yellow duckies and put their name on them and toss them together in a large bowl. Call on students as your “Lucky Duck” who gets to answer. It’s more fun than popsicle sticks!
Note: This is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you click and purchase, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
7- Read the book “Yo! Yes?” on the first day. It has a great theme of friendship and then use the title as call and response for attention. Say “Yo!” and students respond “Yes?”. Kids also like to be split into two groups to read the book as a class. Note: This is an Amazon Affiliate link. If you click on the item and purchase, I will receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
8- Kagan mats are excellent for creating different groupings and increasing student participation!
Using a mat like the one in the video below, you can ask 1’s to talk to 2’s and 3’s to talk to 4’s. You can also change and have 2’s share with 4’s and 1’s with 3’s, for instance. You can also use these mats for table jobs. For example, 1’s will get the papers, 2’s will get the scissors, etc.
9- Eliminate students’ fears of participating because they don’t want to be wrong with this method: When asking a question like “what is two plus 3?” all students know they could possibly get called on. First call on 3 or 4 that have their hands raised and then call on others. But here’s the trick – don’t tell them if their answer is right or wrong. Just smile as they answer and immediately move on to the next student for their answer. Once 6 or 7 people are called on, go over the correct answer. The engagement and listening in my classroom will be high and your students won’t be afraid to answer questions when they know you won’t point out that they got it wrong. Best. of all, your most quiet students will start raising their hands to answer questions!
10- Teach kids that when a question is asked, everyone responds with a hand signal.
This helps to avoid a discussion being derailed by a student raising his or her hand and asking an unrelated question. Tell the Q and C people that you’ll call on them at the end of the answers. This works great!
Behavior Management/ Reward Systems
1- Choose a secret student at the beginning of each day, and keep your choice a secret. Look for “star student” behavior throughout the day and say things like “our secret student is setting a great example by standing in like quietly.” At the end of the day, reveal who the secret student was and give them a treat or a small prize! Your students will absolutely love it!
2- Whenever you see a student do a random act of kindness or something helpful that they were not expected or asked to do, say “___, you are my sunshine!” And they put a sunshine card in a little library pocket with their name on it. When they get 5 sunshines, they get an exclusive lunch with the teacher. They love it! This positive reinforcement really builds a wonderful class environment and consequences are rarely needed. Kids learn that kindness is celebrated and expected of them always. Download free sunshine cards here.
3- Use coupons as a reward system. Kids earn dojo points, which tell the class “banker” how many class bucks they get at the end of the week. They use the class bucks at the student store (ran by students) to buy coupons. Coupons include: sit in teacher chair, desk pet, treasure box, bring a stuffed animal to school, read aloud, wear slippers, etc.
4- Keep things positive with a goal/success wall where every 9 weeks each student will make a new goal and post it up on the wall. Then, as they work towards the goal, sticker their goal card that is on the wall. When they reach the goal they get their picture posted with a call out that they made their goal. The goals are very attainable and students help set the goals. It really helps to focus on student growth and small achievements like – remember to raise your hand, keep a neat desk, remember to hang their personal things up, etc. By the end of the year students tend to pick more academic goals like beat their last 9 weeks fluency scores, but early on the goals are pretty simple. The goal is to celebrate success so the goals need to be attainable.
5- Have a VIP table or chair. Students vote for 3 people they think have exhibited our schools character trait for the month. Each student will get a chance to be the VIP and each student had a say so in who is selected. They sit in the special seat for the whole week and get to be line leader.
1- Grab attention by holding up 2 fingers and saying “make the sum of 7” and having them figure it out and hold up 5 fingers. The classroom will quiet down quickly and it’s a great skill review!
Variation: Do “Make a 10” as an attention getter. Say, “Make a ten” and hold up a random number of fingers (less than 10) and students have to stop and show the fingers needed to make 10.
2- Ring a yoga chime as a classroom reset. On the first day of school practice putting heads down when they hear the chime and taking deep breaths as they listen to the chime fade away. When the sound is gone and they feel calm they sit up again.
3- Do a “Body Check” when sitting on the carpet for a lesson or story time. They check their bodies as we say the chant “Criss cross applesauce, hands in your lap, eyes are looking, ears are listening, mouth is quiet”. As the year goes on, reminding them to do a body check when they aren’t sitting properly works like a charm!
4- Use a maraca to capture attention of students. Shake it and they stop, look, and listen. It works like magic and is often something that people/parents are amazed at.
5- Say, “If you hear my voice, tap your head, touch your nose, clap 2 times,” etc.
6- If students are doing hands-on work as a group, and you need their attention, say “S-T-O-P, stop!” and they respond “Hands on top!” and put their hands on their heads and look at the teacher for full attention. It gets them to stop quick and focus fast as they know they will get some new directions and then be able to go back to the task.
7- Teach “Give Me 5” as a routine for when attention is needed. It’s easy for substitutes to use as well. If working with someone or a small group, the rule is “ask 3 before you ask me” because sometimes their classmates can help without needing to ask the teacher.
1- Designate your tables or rows by day names and when leaving seats to line up or move to the rug etc, start with Monday’s group Monday, Tuesday’s group Tuesday, etc. It’s a good way to keep things even.
Variation: Line up/start an activity/etc. by tables or rows based on the day. Group 1 lines up first on Monday, 2 on Tuesday, etc.; if you only have 4 groups, Friday is a toss up of who is ready first! Works wonders!
2- Hang A,B,C,D signs around the room for multiple choice questions. You can also use these to create groups that are not table groups. So all the As meet under the A, and so on. In kindergarten these come in handy for rotating tables for stations. If they were A at their table. Then they sat at A at the other table. It puts an end to the rushing to get to a spot and the fighting over chairs.
End of the Day/ Week
1- This pack up procedure is amazing! Post “pack up signs” with visuals – like, get your back pack, clean your desk, sanitize the top of your desk, clean the floor, sharpen pencil, etc. Each group has two minutes to complete the task on their sheet. If they finish early, they sit on their desks. Pack up takes 10 minutes and the classroom is spotless every day!
2- Eliminate having students help pass out papers or have student cubbies. Instead, use Friday folders. On Thursday afternoons before you leave for the day, place any notes or graded papers face down on student desks. When students come in on Friday morning, they take their folders out of their backpacks and put the papers in them to go home. Those missing their folders get a paper clip for their papers and a friendly note to return their folder to school.
3- Play “1, 2 , 3 ,4” every Friday. Fold papers into fourths. Students write numbers in each quadrant.
- 1 is always write “something the teacher should know”.
- 2 is write “two friends who were…” (kind, helpful, safe etc).
- 3 and 4 change based on subjects you are learning such as 3 shapes or label a plant with 4 parts.
More Info About…
Classroom Set Up
Setting Up Systems for Math
Setting Up Systems for ELA
How to Organize Your Classroom Library (coming soon)
Setting Up Systems for Social Emotional Learning
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!