Kelsey Lyman: Maximize Learning

by KIPP Houston on Jul 12, 2015

in Teacher Tips

As teachers, we want to maximize the learning time for our students. If we invest the time in teaching and practicing routines and procedures in the beginning of the school year, we will be able to use every minute of class time efficiently.  

Brainstorm Procedures and Make a Plan

Before I start planning my first two weeks of the school year, I make a list of all of the procedures I need to teach. How do I want to pass out papers? What do students do at the beginning of class right when they come in? How do kids ask to get up? Those are some examples of things you want to think about. Then, make a plan to introduce one or two procedures a day. It is overwhelming to students to introduce all of your procedures on the first day.

Make it Easy

Students are much more likely to meet expectations when the routine or procedure doesn’t have lots of complicated steps. Think about what the easiest way to execute that procedure and teach it that way.

Make it Visible

If you plan on teaching a procedure that you will keep all year long, make and laminate an anchor chart to put on the wall for the year. It helps to have something visible to reference when you need to remind a student of the expectations.

Warm and Demanding

Because students are in a new environment the first few days of school, mistakes will happen. When students don’t meet expectations, it is important to stop them, explain (or ask students to explain) why the procedure is important, and have students try it again. Students need to know that you expect them to meet expectations every time, even if it means practicing a procedure 3 or 4 times. The first time all students do it correctly, praise them for it.


It is crucial to have all students meeting expectations. The first weeks of school are all about getting 100% of students to do what you ask. This means it’s okay if you have to have a class practice the entry procedure 4 times in one class period.

Positive Narration

Even middle school students like to be noticed when they are doing something correct. Something as simple as “Jose is ready and tracking me” goes a long way. If a procedure was taught the day before and students are meeting expectations, recognize and praise them for it.


Make sure to move around the room as you observe and give feedback to students when they are practicing a routine or procedure. This way you can give immediate feedback to students who are doing it correctly or a correction to a student who needs to change a behavior.

Make it Fun

Middle school students LOVE to be competitive. You could have a competition between homerooms where classes are timed to complete a procedure correctly. Posting times on the board for the week lets students track their progress.

If you enjoyed this discussion on procedures that work in Kelsey Lyman's classroom at KIPP 3D Academy, you may also enjoy what Aja Prater's counsel from KIPP Legacy Preparatory.