Procedures in the Classroom

Curiosity: A strategy for encouraging students to attend

When I was in high school I had an English teacher who used a very simple strategy to interest and motivate students.  It didn’t take much time or effort on his part and was just a simple thing, but it was enough to get me to want to attend his class every single day.  What did he do?  He simply put up a new thought-provoking quote, in large letters, in the same place, on the same side chalkboard every day.

He never referred to the quote. (I suspect that intuitively he knew that doing so might produce counterwill.) He never asked our opinions or started a discussion and most often the quote was not related in the least to … >>>


A procedure for getting preschoolers to try new foods

A few days ago I was in a restaurant having lunch.  Next to me was a young mom also having lunch, accompanied by her lovely little preschooler.  As their meal was ending, I noticed the mom lift a spoonful of something uneaten from her daughter’s plate and offer it to the little girl––who, with a shake of her curly blond head, declined to eat.  That wasn’t unusual but what the mom said next prompted me to pay a bit more attention.

She said, “Okay, Katie, if you like this can be your “No thank you bite.”  The little girl shook her head no.

No thank you bite?

Huh?  What was she talking about?

Since I’d never heard this expression before, … >>>


My students are messy. How can I get them to clean up?


My class is so messy!  They leave trash everywhere and it takes them forever to clean up after centers, or art time or snack!  How do you get kids to clean up?   They will eventually clean it up because I keep telling them over and over, but I need some ideas!!


I try to approach it in this way in my primary class…

When I ring our chimes to get their attention at a clean up time, I typically make some positive reference to the activity which will directly follow. For instance, I might say….

  • Who’s interested to see what’s been brought for Show and Tell today?
  • Here’s the book we’re going to read today.  I can’t wait
>>> READ MORE >>>

Sharing the Visual Schedule in my primary classroom

The very first step outlined in Dr. Marshall’s Discipline without Stress Teaching Model is classroom management.  He explains on p. 205 of his book, “Students need to be inducted into the organization of the classroom.  The way to do this is to teach procedures.”

Further down on the same page, he continues:

Procedure gives structure, which is especially important for at-risk students.  The label “at-risk” has nothing to do with intelligence.  It simply means that these students are in danger of failing or dropping out of school.  Often the lives of at-risk students are chaotic, and the only part of their lives that is stable is school.  The reason they are in danger is simply because they don’t do … >>>


Teaching Primary students to walk in a line

Recently, I saw a posting on the ProTeacher group, in which a teacher shared a great process for helping young children learn to stay in line while walking.

Firstly the students were taught four procedures for how to walk appropriately in the school:

  1. Stand directly behind the person in front of you.
  2. Face your body forward.
  3. Hands stay down at sides.
  4. We walk quietly in the hall, without talking.

Then the teacher shared an effective and silent procedure that she uses to help students live up to these expectations.  If a problem occurs as they are moving from place to place in the school, she stops the line and wiggles four fingers above her head. The class remains stopped until … >>>


Procedures to Consider

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT has to do primarily with how things are done to make teaching and learning more efficient and effective.

Procedures should be taught before teaching content. A major mistake so often made is assuming that students know what to do without first teaching procedures.

Chances are that when you walk into a room, you do not pay much attention to the floor. But if it were missing, you would certainly notice the situation. The analogy works for classroom management. You don’t notice it when it is good. However, the lack of it is readily apparent because the teacher spends unnecessary time with discipline problems.

Unless PROCEDURES are explained, practiced, and reinforced, discipline problems will increase.

Following … >>>


Rules vs. procedures – Isn’t this just a matter of semantics?


I usually involve the students in the creation of classroom rules.  To me, we are just agreeing upon how we can make our classroom a safe and fun place to be. I don’t know if it’s really so different from a Discipline without Stress approach of having procedures, but “no rules.”  Isn’t this just a matter of semantics?


My teaching partner and I used to have “classroom rules” and like you, we routinely planned a time for kids to create the rules on the first day of school. In my experience this approach produced a different type of thinking within my own mind than the mindset created when I started to experiment with “procedures” rather than rules.  For … >>>


Important information to consider when planning/teaching procedures.

In his book, The First Days of School; How to Be an Effective Teacher, classroom management guru, Harry Wong, quotes research conducted by Madeline Hunter.  He asks us to consider the following information:

  • For a child to learn something new, you need to repeat it on the average 8 times.
  • For a child to unlearn an old behavior and replace it with a new behavior, you need to repeat the new behavior on the average  28 times.
  • 20 of those times are used to eliminate the old behavior and 8 of the times are used to learn the new behavior.

The implication of this information is enormous:

There is great value in thinking out your classroom procedures carefully before … >>>


How can procedures be used when students misbehave?


I’m trying to get a handle on this whole concept of guided choices and procedures.  I guess I don’t really understand what a procedure is or how you would use a procedure when a student is misbehaving.  Can you give me an example?


Teaching procedures is teaching expectations.

Here is an example:

Rather than punishing students for walking down the hallway and talking without permission (against directions), students can be asked for suggestions.  The question can be put to them, “What can you do if you have the urge to talk?”

A student might volunteer, “Tell yourself not to talk.”  The teacher can respond that this is a good plan but will not produce success unless … >>>


Using Discipline without Stress in Preschool with Students Who Have Special Needs

Posted by Teri Gibson, a member of the Discipline without Stress mailring.

I have just begun using DWS this year with my 4 yr. old special needs preschool classes.  I absolutely love it.  No, my class is not perfect. No, DWS does not solve all behavior problems.  What it does is this: For the first time, I am able to “reward” my kids that are being good, while helping the kids that are not!   It makes me view everything as a teachable moment, rather than a child’s attempt to undermine.  I love the way it stresses the positive and actually encourages me to pay more attention to the children who are doing the right thing.  I still have much … >>>


An example of developing procedures proactively to avoid discipline problems.

The more I use the Discipline without Stress approach, the more I appreciate that Step One of Dr. Marshall’s Teaching Model is key to the whole plan.

We’ve just started a series of swimming lessons at our local Community Center for all the primary students in our school. This year I decided to be more proactive than in previous years. Instead of just talking for a couple of minutes–just prior to getting on the bus on the first day–about what behavior is expected at the swimming pool, I decided to plan for a time to discuss it the day before.

As soon as I really started thinking to myself in an organized way about what procedures we would need … >>>


The most effective procedures are those that are carefully planned and explicitly taught.

Recently, the following post was shared on the Kinderkorner mailring by Marybeth Quig-Hartman, who generously allowed me to reprint her ideas here. Note the amount of “teacher thinking” that Marybeth puts into developing her routines and the amount of class time she devotes to the teaching of procedures in the beginning of the school year.

Such diligence pays off! Not only does Marybeth ensure that every child in the class has the opportunity to be successful in learning how to work independently with the various art materials and tools available in the classroom, but by being proactive, she avoids many unnecessary problems for herself, as teacher.

Marybeth explains:

“I find that many “problems” with kids are actually the result >>>


Tell me how procedures are used in a discipline situation.

I don’t understand how the teaching of procedures can be used in a discipline situation.  Can you give me an example?


Having used Discipline without Stress for several years now, I understand the importance of teaching procedures at the start of the school year. Even so, I still find that I sometimes forget this important step in my teaching and then suffer the consequences. Luckily though, I also know how Dr. Marshall would suggest remedying such a situation. He would suggest backtracking–to teach the procedures that I should have taught in the first place! Here is an example of one such impromptu “lesson” which turned out to be extremely helpful for the remainder of the school year.

**************************************************************************************************************************************… >>>


Inattention during our Morning Meeting is causing discipline problems!

I am a student teacher in a 1st grade class. Love the kids but I have a really hard time getting them to listen during our morning meeting time! At least three are ADD but some are just immature.

The kids seem to enjoy the activities and greetings I present but their inattention creates discipline problems–and it’s driving me nuts! The classroom teacher has a green/yellow/red card discipline plan that I’ve threatened to use and I did send one jumpy kid back to his desk because he was disturbing us. Any other suggestions?

My first suggestion is to take care of classroom management–that’s PART I of the Discipline without Stress Teaching Model. Perhaps your students have never … >>>


I am trying to use Discipline without Stress but my students will not listen to me!

I have recently taken over a classroom, as a substitute for three weeks. The teacher of this classroom has been on leave for some time and the students have had many temporary teachers. I feel that I am using all the correct educational practices but the discipline problems in this class are extensive. I am trying to use Discipline without Stress, but no matter what I do, these students will not listen to me very much. What is the problem?

The problem is the history of the class–you are one of their many teachers. They have had no stability, no structure and what’s more, they know that you are not their regular teacher. They know that … >>>


In just two weeks, I’m completely overwhelmed with discipline problems!

QUESTION: School has been in session for just two weeks. This is my first year of using the Discipline without Stress approach. Already I find myself completely overwhelmed with discipline and behavior issues. I’m actually feeling quite a bit of stress about discipline! What should I do? DR. MARSHALL’S RESPONSE: Revisit the four-part Discipline without Stress Teaching Model. Many so-called “discipline problems” can be avoided altogether by proactively teaching classroom procedures. Go back and pretend it’s the first day of school. Start teaching procedures for everything–don’t assume students know how to do anything. Process precedes product. Teaching procedures comes before attempting to teach anything else. Teach an attention management signal: Raise a hand, count, give me five, clap … >>>


The Importance of an Attention Management Signal

Dr. Marshall encourages teachers at any level, to establish classroom procedures as the first step in using the Discipline without Stress Teaching Model

Regardless of the age of the students, an important procedure to teach on the first day of school, or a term, is one that allows the teacher to quiet the students and gain their attention in an effective manner.

Below is an eye-opening set of calculations found on the Internet that point to the importance of establishing and teaching an attention management signal in the beginning of each new school year or semester.


A quiet signal is critical to keep from wasting time and to keep the momentum going during cooperative activities. Suppose that you need … >>>


Using a positive challenge!

My teaching partner and I have always provided a home reading program for our grade one students. We give each one a ziplock bag in which to store their home reading books and every morning they make an exchange, taking two new books home.

Well, that’s the theory of it anyway! In reality, we have never had a high rate of consistent and continued participation in this program. Although in the first few weeks of any particular school year, most families manage to send the home reading bag back and forth on a regular basis, as time goes on, fewer and fewer students actually participate to full advantage. They don’t maintain the routine of returning the bag on a daily … >>>