One of the most harried times during the school days can definitely be dismissal. To me, it is very important to have an effective dismissal routine so the students leave on a good note, and so I don’t end the school day stressed and overwhelmed.
In this post, I will break down how I conduct dismissal in a way that is calm, organized, and very efficient. My dismissal routine maximizes instruction time while being extremely effective at getting the room clean and ready for the next day. Hopefully, you will pick up a few tips for your own dismissal routine while you read my routine.
Filling out Agendas
This may not work for everyone, but we always complete our agendas in the morning instead of at the end of the day. When the students come in and before they begin morning work, they read the board and copy down the homework and any notes/reminders for their parents or themselves (Example: picture day, study for a test).
This method also works well for teachers who check agendas daily for completion and for being signed. You can check in the morning after/during morning work and look for two things at once: that the night’s homework is written down and that last night’s agenda has been signed.
Now let’s move into the actual dismissal time of the day. I had writing as the final subject the past two years, but the routine I am about to share with you works with any subject as long as the students are working independently for the last 10 to 15 minutes of the day. (Which I always like to do because it calms those students down who are anxious for the end of the day).
As the students are independently working, I call one group at a time to get their backpacks, hook them on their chair, and continue working. This takes a bit of training and I find myself saying over and over the first month or so, “Group 1, get your backpacks, everyone else continue working.” I say it to remind the class that they are to continue working because most students are conditioned to think that Get Your Backpacks = No More Working.
I continue calling all the groups until everyone has their backpack. As this point, the students are still working independently but everyone has their backpack and will be ready when it is time to pack up.
Going Over New Homework
I always give them a couple of minutes to continue working silently before I instruct them to clear their desks and take out everything they need to go home. At this time, they are still not packing up. They are simply taking everything out that needs to go home. They know to put their current day’s homework on top of the stack of things to go home.
At this point, I quickly go over the night’s homework and pass out any letters or forms that need to go home. I take only a minute or so to go over the homework because I keep my homework very consistent from week to week. Read my post here about how I manage homework to learn more about my homework routine and how I don’t have to spend a lot of time going over new homework.
Cleaning and Putting Chairs Up
After going over that night’s homework, the students finally begin packing up and cleaning under their desks. While they are doing this, I call groups to put their chairs up. Since we have to stack our chairs, I have to call groups to stack the chairs. When the students have put their chairs up and have a clean area, they sit on their desks. This serves two purposes: it keeps them from walking around the room and it makes sure their desktop is clean. A messy desktop at the end of the day is a pet peeve of mine.
Rewards and Consequences
I keep rewards and consequences for not following the dismissal routine very simple, but I do think it is important to have some in place. I have a student whose job is to monitor the students at dismissal and give class dojo points (on my command or the student chooses- use whichever works for your classroom and your management style) to students or groups that are cleaning the best and/or working the quietest.
If a student fails to follow the proper routine, they are asked by me to repeat it. I usually have no problems with this and don’t have to use a consequence. The consequences comes in when groups don’t clean their area or leave things on their desk. This happens very rarely, but when it does I leave a note on their desk that they have lost x number of class dojo points for leaving a messy desktop, leaving a messy floor, etc.
General Tips for an Effective Dismissal
That is my classroom dismissal routine, broken down in depth, but my way may not be the most effective for everyone.
Here are some more general tips (hopefully demonstrated by my routine) to keep in mind when you are planning your routine:
- Have clear procedures and routines in place. You can even post those procedures for the students to refer to, as needed.
- Stagger whenever possible. By sending small groups of students at a time to the backpack area or to stack their chairs up, you are minimizing the chaos and it will actually take less time because the students will not be distracted.
- Maximize instruction and minimize behavior problems. Whenever possible, plan your routine in a way that keeps the students working as long as possible. Also, look for potential problems and plan around those.
- Have clear expectations. This ties back in with procedures and routines, but make sure you have clear expectations for your students’ behavior at dismissal. My students, for example, know they are to complete the dismissal tasks as quietly as possible.
Do you have a similar dismissal routine or is yours completely different? I would love to hear about yours in the comments.
A good dismissal routine is SO important, yet so difficult to master! This year I have students pack their backpacks, set them down in their line order, and meet me on the rug for a read aloud for the last 10 minutes of the day. That way the day ends on a calm note and the students just get in line and we walk out the door after I finish the book. 🙂
Jennifer Findley says
Erica, that is a great routine! Thanks for sharing that.
Rachel S says
I know I need a better routine for my dismissal, but our dismissal schedule makes it difficult, so I’d love anyone’s input! Of our 600 students, most ride the bus, so we have a very staggered dismissal. At 3:15 the first bell rings to signal the end of instruction. Walkers and car riders are dismissed shortly after at 3:20. Then they dismiss kindergarten bus riders, then 1st and 3rd, then 2nd and 4th, and *finally* 5th grade. So there is about 15+ minutes from when I need to end instruction (because about 8 kids leave with walkers and car riders) and when I can actually take out my 5th graders. Ideas are welcome!
I use that time as a study hall. Students are to sit at their desks and work on homework or study for an upcoming test. I am still looking for ways to make it go more calmly, but they do enjoy the time to get stuff done.
I do a Closing Circle at the end of the day. After students pack their backpacks, they come in and sit in a circle. They take turns telling a reflection of the day (something they enjoyed or a challenge that they faced) or an appreciation for a classmate who helped them. Another option would be a read aloud time, or silent reading.
Great tips! Do your walkers and bus kiddos leave at the same time? I have a 15 minute difference between bus and walkers which can be a challenge. Thank you for these tips, though!!! Lots to think about for next year.
Jennifer Findley says
Hi Alana, within a few minutes of each other. I could see how that could be a challenge. I am not sure how many there are, but have you thought about having “fun” stations for them to choose from during that time? Like creative thinking or teamwork challenges? Nothing too heavy or messy.
Thanks, Jennifer! I do have Morning Tubs so I guess I could transfer those to afternoon tubs to start with.