Procedures are very important in maximizing the time that students are engaged in learning activities. Proper procedures allow students to automatically know what to do given a particular class routine. As such, the teacher does not waste any time giving out instructions because the students already know the procedure for such a task beforehand.
Research in teacher effectiveness has increasingly stressed that effective teachers organize their classrooms so as to prevent disruptive behavior. (Jones, 2002, p. 70) Therefore, the effective teacher does not hesitate to spend time teaching procedures at the first few days of class in order to achieve an efficient, well-oiled classroom the entire year.
Students actually appreciate structure, especially in a school setting. According to Harry Wong, “ The only way to have responsible students is to have procedures and routines for which the students can feel responsible.” (2001, p. 191)
Procedures should be taught like a lesson material. When teaching procedures, teachers they should provide clear instruction, carefully monitor students’ progress, and provide immediate corrective feedback if a student or group of students is having difficulty with the material. The lesson on procedures should continue until mastery is achieved. (Charles, 2002, p. 266)
In order to teach procedures, the teacher should take the time to break down the elements into specific steps. This process is called task analysis, where a step or process is divided into units that are taught one at a time, until the target behavior is achieved. Breaking down a task into their simplest components makes it easier to learn and master.
The following are some procedures that students must learn and how they can be presented in various forms of task analysis.
- Room Areas: Bathroom
When going to the bathroom, it is important that students be taught how to do so without disturbing the class. Imagine the time wasted when every student needs to ask for permission every time they are going to the bathroom. The following is a sample task analysis of the procedure that a student has to follow when going to the bathroom. The actual style depends on the teacher; what is important is that the teacher knows where the student is going without any loss of class momentum.
Task Analysis: GOING TO THE BATHROOM
At the beginning of classes, teacher prepares a “ student apron,” where there are pockets labeled with all the students names. Missed assignments and remedial work are placed in these pockets for students to check everyday. This is also the place where students inform their teacher of where they are going in case they are leaving the classroom. The apron is placed in one wall where students can easily access it.
The teachers can then give and print out the following instructions:
- Student wishes to go to the bathroom
- This is the intent of the student to go out of the classroom.
- Student quietly stands, taking care not to disturb any classmates
- This is the main task, to be able to do the action without breaking the momentum of the other students and distracting them from their tasks.
- Student goes to apron and puts “ bathroom” card inside his name
- This is an arbitrary process that depends upon the teacher. The important thing is to design a process that will allow the student to inform the teacher of where he or she is going. This is important because teachers must know where their students are at all times. The unspoken permission to go to the bathroom is contingent upon this step.
- Student gets hall pass
- This is the sign that student leaves the room with the teacher’s knowledge and assent.
- Student leaves classroom quietly
- Student leaves room as quietly and quickly as possible.
- Student returns to class
- Teacher must know how to multi-task and be able to keep track of a student who went out of the classroom. Student must return within a sufficient time.
- Student removes bathroom card from his name
- This is to confirm that the student has returned to class. There must be a consequence if the student fails to update this upon change of status.
- Student returns hall pass to proper place
- Of course the hall pass should be returned so that others can use them.
- Student quietly returns to table
- Student resumes class work
- Student goes back to whatever the activity was and immediately resumes the on-task behavior.
- School Areas: Lining up
Lining up is a common activity in a classroom; however it can be very noisy and disruptive when done haphazardly. For any kind of activity that requires students to form a line and wait for their turn, it is important that students automatically know how to make the line and what do while they are waiting. The following is a possible procedure for lining up regardless of the purpose or activity that will take place.
Task Analysis: LINING UP
- Teacher verbally prompts class to line up
- This teaches the students to recognize the verbal prompt or cue and prepare for the succeeding tasks.
- Teachers instructs class how to arrange the line
- The teacher has to tell the students how the line will be formed: by last name, by height, or any other system as prescribed by the teacher.
- Students leave their chairs
- Only when the instructions on how to form the line has been given will the students move and leave their seats. The teacher must make this clear to the entire class.
- Students gather quietly at center of the room
- This is when the actual line will be formed. This can be done anywhere inside the classroom where there is the most space to accommodate the students. This will be determined by the teacher.
- In a traditional classroom there is usually a center aisle where the teacher walks, so this would have the most space for the students to file.
- The line is best done while still inside the classroom to prevent disrupting the other classes.
- Students arrange themselves according to teacher’s instructions, as the case may be
- After gathering at a pre-assigned part of the room, the students will then proceed to arranging themselves according to the teacher’s instructions, taking care to keep the noise down while doing so.
- Students take note of the person in front and at their back; students then do a head count and take note of the number
- Regardless of the line arrangement, it should be routine that the class count themselves and remember how many are they before leaving the room to proceed to where they are going. This is very important to check for anyone who is missing when it is time to return to class. Taking note of the classmate in front and at your back makes for easy checking of the person missing. This is SOP, and must be done without any prompting from the teacher.
- Students face forward and will refrain from talking and moving
- After making the line and taking note of their classmates, the students will then face the front of the line and will not make any noise or movement. Students should do this while waiting for further instructions.
- Students wait for further instructions from teacher
- At the signal of the teacher, students will then quietly go to their destination, while keeping a reasonable pace.
- Students hold the line quietly while waiting for their turn
- If the students are required to wait for their turn, they will do so in an orderly fashion. Once the class has reached its destination and further instructions are needed, they will quietly wait for their teacher’s signal.
- Student quietly returns to room when the activity is over unless instructed otherwise
- Once the activity is done, the students will then form the same line, taking care to check if anyone is missing and reporting it to the teacher. If everything is ok, then the class returns to their room in the same organized fashion.
- Whole-Class Activities/Seatwork: Signals for student attention
It is very important for students to recognize non-verbal cues from their teachers. Having a procedure for settling the class and getting the students’ attention is one of the more important procedures for teachers to have. The most effective prompt for this case is one that does not depend on any device so that it can be done wherever the class is.
Task Analysis: SIGNALS FOR STUDENT ATTENTION
- Teacher raises right hand for the entire class to see
- This is the signal that the students recognize. The signal is arbitrary; the teacher designates the signal that is most appropriate and efficient.
- Students see the hand and stop what they are doing
- Upon recognition of the signal, the students then stop whatever they are doing.
- Students go back to their seats at the sign of the raised hand
- If the students are not in their seats, the signal also means that they should return to their seats and stay put.
- Teacher brings down hand once the entire class has settled down
- Once the entire class has settled down and everyone is paying attention, then the teacher brings down the hand to signify that he/she is about to say something. The class should remain quiet and attentive.
- The teacher’s hand should remain raised if some students are still not paying attention.
- Teacher gives instructions or says what needs to be said
- Small-Group Activities: Bringing materials to groups
Bringing materials is another routine that students do while inside the classroom. Because it is a regular activity, there must be a proper procedure for this routine to ensure that it takes place smoothly, with minimal noise and disruption to other groups or classmates in the room.
Task Analysis: BRINGING MATERIALS TO GROUPS
- Teacher pre-assigns groupings and their tasks by putting group numbers inside pockets of student apron.
- As part of class procedure, the teacher should make the groupings a day before. The instructions can then be written on the board, placed on their desks before the class comes in, or any pre-agreed place as determined previously. This saves time because the teacher does not have to instruct the class on what to do.
- Students quietly group themselves
- The students can proceed with grouping themselves according to written instructions; no verbal prompting from the teacher is needed.
- Student assigned to get materials gets list from group leader
- The group then assigns their leader and the person who will be in charge of the materials.
- Student gets tray from the tray station
- There should be a pre-assigned place where students can get boxes or trays where the materials for the activity will be placed. The student assigned to the materials will go there automatically.
- Student gets materials from respective stations
- From the tray station, the student will then gather all the required materials. Student must move carefully, taking care not to drop the materials or spill them as the case may be.
- Student checks if materials are complete
- Student makes sure that materials are complete by consulting the checklist before returning to the group. If there are more materials than the container can hold, then student gets the rest of the materials until everything is there.
- Student returns to group with tray of materials
- After all the materials have been gathered, the groups then proceed to making the activity.
- All the steps mentioned are done automatically, without any verbal cues from the teacher.
- Other Procedures: Housekeeping and student helpers
Aside from class procedures, task analysis is also very helpful in teaching children with functional skills, especially exceptional children. I have included a task analysis of a functional skill in order to apply the principles towards teaching children household chores and other self-help tasks. This task analysis is very detailed, with every step broken down into a single action. When using this type of task analysis, emphasis is on being able to do the task one single step at a time. While this may seem tedious, sometimes it is the only way to teach a procedure or skill.
This task analysis is performed with the following assumptions:
- The child is right handed. If child is left-handed, change orientation of hands
- All the materials are already on the table
- Plastic holding the loaf of bread is already opened
Task Analysis: M AKING PEANUT BUTTER SANDWICH
- Reaches for far of peanut butter
- Grasps lid of jar with right hand
- Holds side of jar with left hand to keep it from moving
- Twists the lid open using a counterclockwise motion
- Lifts lid from mouth of jar
- Removes left hand from side of jar
- Puts lid on the table
- Reaches for one slice of bread
- Puts slice of bread on top of a plate
- Reaches for knife with right hand
- Grasps knife
- Lifts knife
- Brings knife to mouth of jar
- Holds side of jar with left hand to keep it steady
- Dips knife into peanut butter
- Scoops out an amount of peanut butter with knife
- Brings knife with spread towards slice of bread
- Removes left hand from side of jar
- Holds the side of the plate with left hand to keep it steady
- Knife touches the surface of the bread
- Spreads the peanut butter onto surface of the bread
- Distributes peanut butter evenly using a back and forth motion
- Repeats steps 13 to 20 until the desired amount of spread is achieved
- Removes left hand from side of plate
- Brings down knife onto side of plate
- Picks up lid with right hand
- Brings lid towards jar
- Brings lid down on top of the jar
- Holds side of jar with left hand to keep it from moving
- Closes jar by twisting the lid using a clockwise motion
- Takes a second slice of bread with right hand
- Puts second slice of bread on top of the first one
- Picks up the peanut butter sandwich with hands
- Brings sandwich towards mouth
- Opens mouth
- Brings sandwich inside the mouth
- Closes mouth and takes a bite of the sandwich
- Eats and enjoys!
This task analysis can be used as a template when teaching other functional skills as well. This high level of detail is useful, especially for dealing with young children or exceptional learners. In this specific case, the task of making peanut butter sandwich should be listed as a series of steps because the child needs explicit and very clear instructions. This approach is effective in other skills as well. Make sure to teach one skill at a time, making reviews and back-tracking to reinforce what has been learned.
Research has consistently shown that procedures are very important in classroom management. However, these procedures are only effective to the extent that students will be able to master them and apply them in the appropriate situation; and this where task analysis comes into the picture. Task analysis provides teachers with a step-by-step approach that will make it easier for students to learn and master the procedure. There are many ways to present a task analysis, and some may be more detailed than others.
By breaking the instruction into discrete units, they can be taught using an organized system that allows for assessment art every step. By employing task analysis, it is easier to narrow where the students are having difficulty. Rather than re-teach the entire procedure, the teacher can just start from the task where the problem occurred. This saves on time while ensuring that mastery is achieved.
Charles, C. M. (2002). Building Classroom Discipline, Second Edition. Allyn & Bacon,
Massachusetts. p. 266
Jones, V. F. & Jones, L. S. (2001). Comprehensive Classroom Management:
Creating Communities of Support and Solving Problems, Sixth Edition. Allyn & Bacon. Massachusetts. p. 69-72
Wong, H. (2001). How To Be An Effective Teacher: The First Days of School. Harry K.
Wong Publications. California. p. 167-194