CHAMPs: A Proactive and Positive Approach to Classroom Management offers several suggestions on how to begin your day or class period with a positive tone, how to maintain maximum time for instructional activities, and how to end each day or period effectively. In that book, we identify six critical times or issues related to beginning and ending the day or class. They are:
Let's talk about three of them.
Your goal for this critical time is to encourage students to feel welcome and to immediately go to their seats and begin a productive task. To accomplish this goal:
Your goals for this activity are: (1) to ensure that students will not leave the classroom before they have organized their own materials and completed any necessary clean-up tasks; (2) to ensure that you have enough time to give students both positive and corrective feedback; and (3) to set a positive tone for ending the class.
Leave enough time at the conclusion of an activity/period/day to end on a relaxed note. How much time this will entail will vary. For example, in a middle school math class, one minute will probably suffice, whereas in a middle school art class, it may take up to ten minutes to get all the supplies put away and the room ready for the next class. Elementary teachers may need five to ten minutes at the end of the day to help students get organized, make sure the room is clean, and provide last minute announcements.
When students have finished organizing and cleaning up, give the class as a whole feedback on things they are doing well and things that may require more effort.
Your goal at this time is to ensure that students do not leave their seats until instructed to do so by you.
On the first day of school and when students return from vacations, remind them that they are not to leave their seats when the bell rings. Explain that the bell is the signal to you, and that you will excuse the class when things are reasonably quiet and when all wrap-up tasks have been completed. If you let students “bolt” for the door when the bell rings, it sets a precedent that your instructional control ends with the bell. By reserving the right to excuse the class, you can make judgments about whether you should excuse the whole class at once, or by rows (or table clusters).
These suggestions will help you create an invitational and supportive atmosphere in your classroom and communicate that you intend to make the most of your instructional time.