Starting A Center Routine!

The time has come and back to school season has come upon us.  Some of you have already started and some like me are still trying to hold on to the last few weeks!  Wherever you are in your journey now is a good time to start thinking of your expectations for small group.  Whether your doing guided reading or just skill groups you need to have a well thought out plan for the rest of your class.

I thought I would share my advice and experience!

Usually for my first month or so I have my students rotating in centers but I’m NOT working with my small groups.  I need to be available for my students questions and to be able to guide them through this independent process.  Obviously this is a harder task for younger students but don’t just jump in if you’re teaching 5th or 6th grade either.  You would be surprised they need guidance as well!

Next you need a schedule.  They need to know where they are going without having to ask you.  There are a TON of ways of doing this and honestly there is no right or wrong way.  You have to find a way that you are comfortable with.  I have assigned each group a color and made a chart Monday – Friday to show where they should start and where they should go next.   For my older students I wrote their names on an index card by group and put the index cards in pocket charts and moved them each day.  It’s honestly up to you.  It has to be something the students are going to understand and that doesn’t take a lot of work to keep up with on your part.  Try not and over complicate this process to go over board on the “CUTE” aspect.  If it isn’t easy you are going to find the students are confused and you forget to update the new rotation every day!

You need rules.  I know this goes without saying but you have to be really specific with your expectations.  Your students need to know that they cannot interrupt your group unless it is a TRUE emergency.

This is what I define as a true emergency.  Your expectations will be different depending on the age in which you teach.

  • Someone is bleeding
  • Someone is fighting
  • The classroom is flooding
  • You see a tornado coming
  • Aliens are invading
  • You asked 3 people for help and STILL do not know the answer

My students always get a kick out of this but it’s important to stress that my groups do not get interrupted unless there is a TRUE emergency.

Another important topic to discuss is procedures.  Your students need to know where all the needed materials are located and what to do when they are done.  You are setting yourself up for failure if you do not establish this right from the start.

Hope this helps start your centers!  Check back for more tips on establishing routines!

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