Perhaps because I started out teaching in a high-poverty school, and such schools tend to be law-and-order places, I am fairly strict about my students’ hallway behavior. Now I work at a school where people are pretty lax about the halls, and my kids are among the few who are quiet and orderly. My routines haven’t changed, though, because I still think that being orderly in the halls is important.
We start off the same way each time. We’ll be working in the room, when it becomes time to go somewhere. I turn off the lights and say, “one…two…three…freeze!” and model crossing my arms and putting my hands on my shoulders. The children cross their arms and every one looks at me to hear instructions. If we need to clean up, I tell them how to do so, and then tell them to line up “in ABC order” when they are done. (For more about my ABC line, read this post.)
Our line leader goes to the front of the line, and stands in the doorway to our room. Everyone else lines up alphabetically behind him/her, and our “caboose” for the week goes to stand at the end of the line. There is a clear path stretching from the door into our room for lining up.
I stand by the line leader, and say, “Children, if you’re listening to me, put your hands in the air.” The whole class puts their hands way up, and anyone who didn’t hear me, notices what everyone else is doing and joins in.
Then I put my hands on my mouth and say in a stage whisper, “If you’re ready to be quiet, put your hands on your mouth.” The children copy me and their voices die down.
“Put your hands on your elbows,” I say, and model crossing my arms. “Now we’re going to Art, so please remember to be quiet so we don’t bother all the people who are working in the other rooms.”
My little line of ducklings follows me out the door into the hall. There is a line on the floor which we follow. I walk slowly, so they can keep up, and I turn around to check on them frequently. I have them cross their arms so they won’t be tempted to hit each other, pull each other’s clothing or hair, or tear down art that is hanging in the halls — all problems I had in my first years of teaching.
I’ve seen other teachers set off at a fast, adult pace, and rarely stop to see if their class is following. They turn a corner, and suddenly most of the class is around the corner, completely out of view. I don’t feel comfortable with having my kiddos out of eyesight, for safety reasons, so I stop a lot to let the stragglers catch up.
I also stop if I hear talking, or if someone is, say, dancing or spinning rather than walking safely in line. This happens a lot at the beginning of the year, and not so much after that.
My building has had intruders before — a few years ago a large, scary woman was stalking our social worker for months, and the police had to be called to the school several times — but I feel confident that in an emergency, my class would all be together, and they would be listening, and we could quickly move to a safe place.
In addition, they’ve learned something about respect. We recognize that people are working in each room we pass, and we are quiet so as not to interrupt them.
Yes, it’s pretty strict. But it works.