Children are process-oriented beings. They are also very forgetful. These two factors combine in a need to guide your students around the classroom in a foolproof manner. Signs that outline every possible task can make a big difference in clearly stating your expectations and hopefully stemming off-task behaviors. For all of these signs, use language that is sensible for your grade level.
Giving each student a specific job can really help move these other processes along. Make a big sign, with the jobs or names attached by magnets so they can be switched up at regular intervals.
You see timing/schedule signs a lot in the elementary grades, but teachers forget about them in secondary schools—where schedules are even more confusing. But here’s the twist: consider covering up the clock to discourage disengaged students from staring at it. Knowing the schedule and the time are two different things.
Again, this can apply to secondary as well as elementary. In a step-by-step format, describe the procedure you would like students to use to be able to leave their seats and sharpen their pencils.
Leaving for lunch
You’re trying to avoid the mad rush once the bell rings for lunch. Make one of your classroom jobs someone who is in charge of making the line orderly.
The organization of your classroom library
Your classroom library needs to be properly organized (we advocate by reading level, then genre). A sign explaining your system will help students not only find books, but put them back in the right place.
Basic tech tasks
Make a sign describing basic tech tasks that students will have to perform on a regular basis, things like how to print or where to find common items on your classroom website. This will save a lot of repetitive questions.
Basic tech troubleshooting
Writing out steps to try if students can’t log on, print, or connect to the Wi-Fi can also save yourself and the kids a lot of headaches. If you don’t know some of these tricks, get together with the school’s tech coach.
This sign-making process can be ongoing throughout the year. If students are consistently off-task during a certain activity or asking a certain question over and over, make another sign.