Our classroom procedures are introduced early in the year, in the order needed, but none without modeling and direct instruction of classroom community expectations.  I rely on knowledge of how people learn, using the benefits of behaviorism and constructivism to ensure desired results.  Below is a cursory list of some fundamental routines that align with our Community Conventions.
Arrival /Departure Seating Discussions Transitions Grouping
Supplies

Celebrations New Students Town Hall Energy Exorcism Catch-Up Period
Attendance

Assignment Notebooks Mailboxes Folders "The Box" Blue Notes Grading
Reading Program Writing Program

Arrival/Departure
(Conventions: Respect and Caring)
    I make a pointed effort to greet each student by name each day when they arrive.  When all students have entered, I circulate around the room doing my best to make a meaningful connection with each child.  I try to talk to students about anything but schoolwork to emphasize my interest in them as unique individuals.  Students stow belongings, mark attendance and lunch count, then prepare for seatwork.  
    At the end of each day, tables are called one-at-a-time to collect their belongings.  Discussion is allowed only between immediate neighbors so that all can hear the intercom for bus pages or afternoon announcements.  As students are dismissed by me, they ensure tables are straight and place their chairs on top.  I wait at the door to slap high fives, shake hands or whatever exit salutation they prefer...head bonks on my hand are popular.  This interaction is my opportunity to provide a quick, concise positive reinforcement regarding each student’s performance during that day and send him or her off feeling good about our relationship and school.
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Seating

(Conventions: Respect, Caring and Responsibility)
    I initially allow students to choose their own seating on the first days, until I get to know each personality and can decide what seating arrangement will work best for this team, this year.  I change this assigned seating as needed to ensure community development and a variety of combinations so that students will experience many differences and learn to work with every other student at some point.  
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Discussions
(Conventions: Respect, Caring and Responsibility)
    During group discussions students are expected to speak one at a time and show attentive listening skills (heads up, eyes on speaker, no talking).  This is thoroughly modeled and practiced with role-playing  at the beginning of the year and occasionally thereafter as necessary.  Students are to raise their hands to speak and, often, fellow students will have the opportunity to call on one another, rather than me always choosing who gets to respond.   To ensure participation, the Town Halls function round-robin style initially, then volunteers may continue the conversation. This will give me a chance to monitor who dominates discussion and who needs practice or motivation to participate.  Our community focus is explicitly on being a safe place for contribution where students are taught how to encourage one another to participate.  Students will be told this directly as well as witness increased enforcement of the Community Chest for put-downs or ridicule.
    When discussion is allowed during independent work, it is only within a group or with immediate neighbors at low volumes.  When it becomes disruptive, I give one warning to the entire class.  If they don’t respond immediately, I head to the Community Chest. 

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Transitions
(Conventions: Respect and Responsibility)
    Students are informed and expected to transition between activities and areas smoothly.  Between lessons, students are given one minute or less to switch material as necessary, including sharpening pencils.  At the one-minute mark, I begin the activity.
    For transitions to other parts of the building, we use what my first class affectionately named a "SutterLine".  (A SutterLine is straight, silent, with right shoulders two inches from the wall, hands behind the back, eyes forward.)   The first person in line is responsible for pacing the class and showing appropriate behavior while walking.  Each student will be charged to emulate the behavior of the person in front of him or her.  
    Note: I have struggled with the lack of authenticity and absurd need for the skill of walking in conformity outside of the military or prison, but have conceded that in elementary school, this is the best way to travel within a building and to manage a large group of children.

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Grouping
(Conventions: Respect and Responsibility)
    Grouping is used as a regular strategy to develop interpersonal skills and cooperation as needed per lesson requirements.  When direction is given, students will have one minute to arrange themselves.  At the one-minute mark, I pick up the first marble for the Community Chest.  Due to the variations of lessons, behavior in groups may have different expectations and tolerance that I apply as needed.  With adherence to our Community Conventions, appropriate behavior is expected.

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Supplies
(Conventions: Respect and Responsibility)
    Students and parents are informed early through the Sutterblog and class discussion of materials necessary for the year and for each activity as it approaches.  All required materials are supplied, however, frequently used supplies such as paper, pencils, and crayons are readily accepted donations!  

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Celebrations
(Conventions: Respect, Caring and Responsibility)
    I try to teach with a critical pedagogy of celebration so that the class can discuss, with respect, the pros, cons and indifferences of diverse beliefs.  I want to engage my students in thinking about why we celebrate anything and base our classroom celebrations not on traditional holidays, but on our classroom community values.  We have three main celebrations during the year: Halloween party, a Winter Open House and a Spring Open House.  
    Most kids and parents are let down that our room doesn't have a Valentine's party.  I teach a theme of love, peace, and unity all year, thus my expectation is that we should be expressing these virtues daily in the world I'd like to live in, eliminating the need for one specific day or party.  Our class is allowed to share Valentine cards on a voluntary basis so long as each classmate receives one. 

    Academic achievement and social character are celebrated at the students’ discretion.  When I see academic improvement or accomplishment, I notify the individual and give him or her the choice of public recognition for work.  Either way, I celebrate it personally with the student and his or her family.  When a student shows significant social character in accordance to our conventions or some other way, I celebrate the act publicly to emphasize and promulgate value on social character.

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New Students
(Conventions: Respect and Caring)
    New students joining our room are strategically partnered with an established student.  At the beginning of each year, I assign partners to make the new student feel welcome and to learn our conventions sooner.  Because one new person can change the dynamic of a team, we revisit teambuilding activities more heavily to incorporate the new team.

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Town Hall
(Conventions: Respect and Caring)
    Town Halls, scheduled weekly, are group discussions for individuals to share important events in their lives, current events in society or anything else that is on their minds to return us from the academics that often separate us, to the things that connect us all as people.  I  provide prompts for thought and discussion as well as share personal information as part of the group.  This is also a forum where we sing songs that are related to our conversation topic.  

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Energy Exorcism
(Conventions: Responsibility and Caring)
    This is a brief, directed break between content areas when students can stretch,sing, do yoga, and occasionally talk freely.  My theory is to alleviate disruptive behavior during learning time by providing an appropriate outlet opportunity.

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Catch-Up Period
(Conventions: Responsibility and Caring)
    During this sporadic period, students have a chance to begin homework from any content area in a structured environment with teacher assistance.  Appropriate use of this time would include writing in Writer's Notebooks, silent reading, reading sheets, cleaning tubs or homework. However, this irregularly scheduled period may be shortened depending on fluctuating time requirements for other content areas.

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Attendance
(Conventions: Respect and Responsibility)
   
Each student is assigned a number at the beginning of the year.  Numbers are placed on a board and students are to move their numbers upon arrival each day to their lunch choice.  This routine  both efficiently counts our attendance in the morning and provides a lunch count for the cafeteria.
    I cannot emphasize enough the importance of regular attendance for students to feel part of the team by staying caught up with work and our daily conversations.  
   
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Assignment Notebooks
(Convention:  Responsibility)
    In fourth grade, students receive one spiral assignment notebook from me.  It is their responsibility to write down our daily activities.  This is our record of what we do each day and what may need to be completed at home.  Using this as a checklist for completed work helps students stay organized and be prepared for class.  Long term assignments and test information are also noted here.  The assignment notebook is posted daily on this site.  Parents are to sign this book each weekend and return on Monday.  Sometimes, parents, students or I may decide that a daily parent/teacher signature is necessary to support a child's organization.  I would expect parents to look for this assignment notebook each night to remain engaged in our classroom and their child's learning.  This serves as a valuable communication tool on a weekly basis. 
    During the third grade loop, the assignment notebook is posted online daily and hangs in class for students, but does not come home and students are not required to copy it daily.  We work up towards that in the fourth grade end of our looping class.

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Mailboxes
(Convention:  Responsibility)
    Students all have their own mailboxes.  Notes from the office, PTO, graded papers and other handouts are placed in the mailboxes and should go home daily.  There is no Friday Folder as papers are graded and returned ASAP for parents to regularly monitor their child's progress. Notes are delivered on the day they are received to alleviate a pile of paper filtering on Sunday night!

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Folders
(Convention:  Responsibility)
    Each student has an 8-pocket plastic "school" folder. This remains in the student’s tub and holds papers that we will reference regularly.  Each pocket is labeled for a specific subject or activity and I tell students which pocket to use when papers are handed out.  This folder should not go home.
    Each student also has a "home folder" or "BBT" (Bring Back Tomorrow).  This should travel back and forth each day.  Students are instructed that items in the left pocket of the folder are to be left at home in "the box".  Items in the right pocket of the folder are homework assignments, parent signature or other items that must return to school.
    Some subject areas also have uniquely-colored folders and are used in class.  These do not need to go home and all papers at the end of a unit will go home in the home folder.

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The Box
(Convention:  Responsibility)
    Each student is encouraged to find a box that can be stored in a convenient place at home.  Any graded papers or student work that comes home should be placed in “the box” until the end of the marking period.  Due to any number of human errors, a graded paper occasionally goes home unrecorded.  By using this box, many students have been able to retrieve a paper or have had study material at their fingertips.  I have seen this simple tool save many students (and parents) much stress!
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Blue Notes
(Convention:  Responsibility)
    If a student is missing an assignment, I send home a “Missing Assignment/Behavior” notice attached to his/her Assignment Notebook on Friday (also called a "blue note").  During the third grade loop, blue notes come home in the home folder.  This note must be signed and returned on Monday.  Students should then ask for a copy and complete the assignment. Incomplete assignments are left as a blank in my gradebook.  I do not give zeros that will tank a child's average in a subject, but if I do not have assignments as evidence for an appropriate report card marking, I have to mark the area as "not meeting grade-level expectaions".

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Grading
(Conventions: Responsibility)
I have tried to simplify my grading process for consistency and communication ease between students, parents and myself.   I have two basic ways of grading papers, either through a straight percentage based on the number of problems or a three-step graduated process similar to district report cards.  So that parents and students understand the three-step (Check Plus, Check, Check Minus) process here is an explanation:

Sutterlin's Grade Report Card Grade

         √+  =  80% - 100%  =  Nice Work!                         

I will mark comments or errors for specific feedback.  4
  √    =  50% - 80%   =  Acceptable.  I will mark comments or errors for specific feedback.  You have the choice to redo the paper for a revised grade. 3
  √ -   =  Below 50%  =  Not Acceptable!  I will mark comments or errors with specific feedback.  You are expected to redo the work and turn it back in for an improved grade which will be the average of the first and second grade of that assignment. 1-2


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 Updated April 4, 2012

Walt Sutterlin 2012. All rights reserved. All works published on www.sutterlearn.com are copyright protected and may not be used, reprinted, retransmitted, or altered in whole or in part without express written permission of Walt Sutterlin.