Providing Structure: Routines and Rules Checklist

by Carolyn Ito

Teachers who develop and communicate clear routines and rules to their students are more likely to create well-managed classrooms and enjoy the year teaching.  Consider each of the following questions.  Check each indicator that you feel needs to be improved in your classroom.  

1.  Do I develop efficient procedures and routines for my classroom? Do my students know how to:

  • Enter and leave the classroom?

  • Get to work immediately?

  • Come to attention?

  • Respond in emergency situations (fire drill, injury, loss of power)?

  • Distribute, exchange, and collect materials?

  • Sharpen pencils?

  • Move about the room?

  • Ask questions and request help?

  • Listen to and respond to questions?

  • Indicate understanding?

  • Respond to visitors, knocks at door, and phone calls?

  • Listen during PA system announcements?

  • Work cooperatively?

  • Obtain missed assignments upon returning from an absence?

  • Use time wisely when completing an assignment early?

  • Move appropriately through the halls?

2.  Do I determine viable classroom rules?

  • Do my rules support school-wide and district policy?

  • Do my rules set and maintain limits?

  • Do I have 5 or fewer rules?

  • Are my rules stated positively and succinctly?

  • Do my rules include positive and negative consequences?

3.  Do I teach and reinforce my procedures, routines, and rules?

  • Do I teach my classroom routines and rules?

  • Do I post my rules in the classroom?

  • Do I send home a copy of the rules to be signed by parents/guardians?

  • Do I explain, model, demonstrate and have my students rehearse routines and rules?

  • Do I reinforce procedures until they become routines?

  • Do I test student knowledge of rules by the second week of school?

  • Do I periodically review the rules?

  • Do I teach the rewards and consequences for following the rules?

  • Do I encourage students to support each other in following the rules and routines?

4. Do I plan and give rewards for following rules?

  • Do I emphasize that students earn rewards?

  • Do I teach what my rewards mean (like praise, positive self-concept)?

  • Do my rewards promote self-discipline?

  • Do I explain the time factors associated with rewards?

  • Do I post my rewards along with the rules?

  • Do my rewards include smiles, high fives, and handshakes?

  • Do I have an efficient system for keeping track of who earned awards?

5. Do I develop and administer consequences for breaking rules?

  • Do I teach the consequences for breaking rules?

  • Do my consequences encourage students to choose the acceptable behaviors?

  • Are my consequences reasonable and logical?

  • Do I deliver consequences immediately?

  • Do I deliver consequences privately?

  • Can I deliver consequences without interrupting my lesson?

  • Do I deliver consequences without raising my voice?

  • Do I deliver consequences without sarcasm, guilt, or coercion?

  • Do I publish the consequences with the rules?

  • Do my consequences provide opportunities for students to build problem-solving skills, responsibility, and self-discipline?

For further reading on preventing problems see these sources available for checkout through the T/TAC Library.  Or call 1-800-323-4489.


Battenhausen, S. (1998, January). "20 ways to make proactive modifications to your classroom", Intervention in School and Clinic 33, 182-183.

Connolly, T., Dowd, T., Criste, A., Nelson, C., Tobias, L. (1995). The well-managed classroom: Promoting student success through social skill instruction. Boys Town, NE: Boys Town Press.

Wong, H. & Wong, R., (1998). How to be an effective teacher: The first days of school. Mountain View, CA: Harry K. Wong Publications, Inc.