March 20, 2013

Smooth Dismissal Routine

It happens to the best of us.

You're just patting yourself on the back for achieving a calm, productive day from start to finish when you look at the clock and have 3 minutes before the bell rings to get your kids ready to go home. What ensues next can only be described as pure chaos as 22 book bags, coats, lunch boxes, math books, binders, pencil boxes, assignment pads, and hats try to make it out your door with the correct kid.

And don't even get me started on the rolling bookbags! I mean, good grief! It looks like the airport concourse at JFK when the Kindergarteners start running for the buses.

Over the years, I've reworked and tweaked my dismissal routine until I think I've finally found one that more closely resembles controlled chaos than a zoo at feeding hour.

Here's what works for me:
  • EVERY student must sit at their desk with their assignment notebook open. We review the homework on the board to make sure it's correct. I have my homework board marked out on the corner of one of our white boards using floor tape (the kind used by gym teachers). Next to each subject, I have a set of magnets with the books or binders that class requires. If an assignment requires a math textbook and workbook to go home, those two magnets get placed on the board. 
  • When a student has filled out their assignment notebook and placed all the items on their desk that need to go home, they raise their hand.
  • I go around to the raised hands, do a quick glance over their assignment pad and items, sign my initials next to that date on the assignment pad, and that is their signal that they are allowed to get out of their seat and get their book bag. 
  • Once they are completely packed up, they are allowed to stand by their desk and play Silent Speed Ball. See how we played it HERE. Playing this game was a HUGE motivation for them to pack up quickly (especially for the boys). Since it's also a silent game, the room got very quiet as each new student joined in.
  • When we had two bus runs, I'd team up with another teacher. The "first run kids" from both classes would line up in the hall and she would take them down to the bus. I would keep all the "second run kids" and let them play a game until their bus was called 30 minutes later. The next day, we'd switch duties so that every other day I had an extra 30 minutes to get work done.
(Hop on over here to read tips on how to create a calm morning routine.)

So what works for you? What are your tips for creating a smooth dismissal time?

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