It is essential that routines and procedures are put into place starting the very first week of school to ensure that the classroom runs smoothly. Systems should be in place for any activity that takes place more than once in the classroom. For example, coming into the classroom in the morning, transitions between subjects, centers, and dismissal all need to have dedicated systems in place.
One procedure that I have found incredibly useful is the use of specific hand signals. Students are able to hold these signals in the air, allowing me to approve a restroom break or a trip to the water fountain without interrupting the lesson. These signals also help to encourage participation, as students are able to silently share whether they agree or disagree with a classmate or teacher's idea.