I'm no expert; these tips are just things that have worked for me, so you can take 'em or leave 'em.
Tip #1: Establish clear procedures and be consistent in making sure they are followed correctly.
The first two weeks of school are the most important and I spend much of that time teaching, practicing, and reviewing our class procedures. After I explain a procedure, I have my class repeat it back to me and then we take time to practice it. This way, there is no question about what is expected in my classroom. I review the taught procedures everyday and at the end of the second week of school, I give the students a classroom procedures quiz (not for a grade!).
There is no way to teach all the procedures in one day, so I break them down and teach the most important ones first. Here's my outline:
Day 1: (I teach all these procedures on Day 1, but not necessarily in this order)
- How to enter the classroom/Morning Routine
- Where to put backpack
- Signal for getting quiet ("Give Me Five")
- What to do if teacher leaves room
- What to do if a visitor enters the room
- Hand Signals for comments/questions/restroom
- How to behave in the hallway
- How to line up
- How to get things from your cubby during transition times (I use color groups)
- How to pass papers in
- If you break a pencil
- Labeling papers
- Playground rules
- Where to put homework
- What to do if teacher is called on walkie-talkie
- What to do if you are absent
- What to do if you are tardy
- What to do if you finish work early
- Active listening
- How to walk up the hill at dismissal
- How to behave at car pickup
- How to work in groups
- What to do after a test
- Keeping a binder
- Going to the office
- Responding to drills/lockdown
- Going to the library
- Getting materials without disturbing others/Moving about the room
To learn more about establishing clear procedures/routines in your classroom, read The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher by Harry & Rosemary Wong.
I'll leave you with a quote from the book: "Student achievement at the end of the school year is directly related to the degree to which the teacher establishes good control of the classroom procedures in the very first week of the school year. It is the procedures that set the class up for achievement to take place."