All teachers know that classroom management is essential for learning. This is very true in the music room—without classroom management, how can you play instruments or do dances? An essential part of classroom management are routines. Routines keep things orderly. And if students do them enough, they will be so second nature that you do not even have to help (or at least that is the end goal—we may get there one day!).
Honestly, even though it is March, not all of my classes are to the autopilot stage yet. There are a lot of factors that go into that fact, but honestly, I think a lot of it is that some classes just don’t care. I think this because I have a lot of classes that can do all of the routines we will talk about without any help.
So what kind of routines do you need? This will be different for every class and every school. you have to think about things that students do often in your classroom. These would the very basics:
- Entering the room
- Exiting the room
- Getting supplies
- Movement in the classroom
Now, you may have more routines than this. You may have centers movement, turning in work, dealing with instruments, etc. These would be the very basics of routines in the music room.
Again, these will all be different depending on your classroom. We all have different classrooms with different students and different set ups. We all have different “crazy tolerances”. (AKA how much we are willing to let students wiggle or sit strangely, etc.) All of these things affect how you do your routines.
I am going to let you know my routines, as well as ways that I have seen other teachers do it. If you have anything to add, please leave it in the comments!
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Routine #1: Entering the Room
I will admit, this is one that my students and I have not totally figured out yet. Now, my kids have assigned seats (and if yours don’t, fix it quick!), so they come inside and sit on their assigned dots. They know (and I tell them every single day) that if they come in quietly and quickly, they will get a class point (you can read more about that here).
For people who do not have assigned seats, I have seen other teachers that brought the line inside and made a circle, keeping the same order. They held hands just to make sure it looked good and then they sat down.
I have also seen where they sat in assigned seats, but the teacher had music playing that they were listening to immediately. This is something that I have not done, but am going to try. I’ll let you know how it goes!
Routine #2: Exiting the Room
Again, depending on how you have students set up, this will change. My students have assigned “dots” that they sit on. We skip some rows so that they have space, so I have students on green dots, purple dots, red dots, and “brown dots” (carpet squares). To line up, I have the green dots stand and walk towards the door. Then the purple dots stand and walk away from the door so that they can go down the green row. Red and brown follow. This has worked very well for me.
Line order? You may ask. I always tell them we will get in Mrs. Davis’ line order first. Then I count down from ten to give them time to get into their line order.
Note: Some classes have had problems getting into their line order, so I just say that their teacher can do it in the hallway if they want to.
Routine #3: Getting Supplies
This one is so important! Especially if you have a lot of supplies to get in a day. Try to make it as streamlined as possible.
For example, if we are coloring, then I put the paper, clipboards, and crayons right next to each other. This way it is easier to get all of the things.
I do this by rows as well. I tell them I am looking for a row sitting criss cross applesauce and quiet to pick. Once I pick a row, they stand up, stay in the same order and come up front. Then the walk around to the other side and go down their row. This way, no one walks through the carpet (AKA less likely to step on a hand). They should all still be in the order the sit in when they get back.
If you have tables or have students in groups, you could have students pass out the supplies. You could have them pass the supplies down the line until they get to the end. But there must be a system.
And if you do have that sort of system, I would definitely get these organizers.
Use the same system for picking up the supplies as well.
Routine #4: Bathroom/Water/Tissue/Etc
That is very vague, I know.
This routine is for all of the extra stuff. Are you going to let the students go to the bathroom during class? Do you have a sign out sheet? Do they ask you? Can they just get up and get tissue?
In my class, I like to minimize movement as much as possible. I do not like students walking around if I don’t know where they are going, so I require students to raise their hand to ask for these things. Even tissue. Especially because a lot of them like to go to blow their nose or go to the bathroom when they are bored. And they like to intentionally walk past people to talk to them. Yes, that’s a thing.
I only do bathroom as an emergency, and I tell them if they go they will not get a ticket (PBIS—same as a Dojo Point) because we are not supposed to go during music. This deters most of the kids who are just trying to play.
With blowing noses, I will let them but only one at a time so they don’t talk. Again, they have to raise their hands.
And I don’t do water unless someone seems like they are dying.
Note: if we have a really active day, like dancing or parachute, then I will usually play a video at the end and let them get water one at a time.
A lot of people use hand signs so that the teacher knows without calling on someone what they want. I do not. If you do, let me know how it works.
Another idea that I like but have not tried is having students write their name and destination on a dry erase board stuck to the door like this.
Routine #5: Movement in the Classroom
This is also a vague name for a routine. Essentially, what will students do the rest of the time? Like if you have to move from one activity to the next.
Again, this totally depends on your activities and what is going on.
A big on is centers.
If you are moving from one center to the next, what do you do?
I indicate the end of centers by playing a rhythm and having them clap it to me. (This requires them to put down anything in their hands.) Then I say “1, 2, 3, 4 put everything down, get off the floor AND FREEZE!” Students clean up their stations and stand. I always make them point to the next station to make sure they know where they are going. Then I say, “5, 6, 7, 8, hurry don’t be late.” And they go to the next station.
This took a few times of doing it before students really got this down, but now it is like second nature.
Also, I did not make that up. I got it from my mentor during student teaching and I have no clue where she got it from.
For pretty much any other movement, I call students by row. And I always tell them I am looking for the row that is sitting the nicest.
So those are the main routines for the music room! Of course, there are quite a few other routines that are not as major. Again, everything is going to depend on your students, your lessons, and your room. And of course, your “crazy tolerance”. (I totally made that term up, by the way.)
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What are your favorite routines in the music room? Feel free to share your routines in the comments!