3 Tips for End of Day/ Dismissal Routines in the Classroom

3 Tips for End of Day/ Dismissal Routines in the Classroom

Dismissal time in the classroom can be really hectic and stressful for students AND staff... You're trying to dismiss numerous students within a few minutes , they're all going to different places, and safety is likely a concern at this time.

Good news though... there are things you can do to ease the stress during this time and make the transition go smoother! Here are 3 little tricks I've learned over the years that have helped our students and staff during dismissal time!
1) Have a super CONSISTENT dismissal routine.
You might be rolling your eyes right now and thinking, "Duh, Kim! We are all about routines in our classrooms..." I'm pretty nutty about all routines, but the routines that are related to safety (dismissal, arrival, recess, etc.) are the routines that we are super consistent with and practice over and over again. We spend a TON of time reinforcing behaviors during these transitions because we want to increase independence and ensure safety at these times!

Here's our dismissal routine:
  • We start the routine with a quick 2-4 minute meditation/ mindfulness activity to help students calm their bodies. We do the mindfulness activity at our small group tables (these are the tables where students have assigned seats). You can check out this post for ideas and information about how we do mindfulness/ meditation.
  • Then we start calling students (1-3 at a time) using the transition schedule in the picture below. We put a name card on the schedule and ring the door bell. The doorbell cues the student who's name is next on the transition schedule to transition their transition. During this part of the transition, the student(s): gets their backpack from their locker, gets anything from their cubby/ mailbox, and goes back to their seat to pack up their backpack. We have 1-3 students transitioning at a time to limit the number of students moving around the classroom at any time. During this time, we typically have one teacher leading the doorbell/ schedule, one teacher standing at the door to help monitor students getting their backpacks and one teacher walking around the room providing reinforcement for positive behaviors.
  • Once all students have packed up their backpacks and are sitting back in their spots, we start ringing the door bell again (1 at a time in the same order as on the transition schedule) to have students stack their chairs and line up by the door. At this time, we have one teacher have one teacher leading the doorbell/ schedule, one teacher standing at the door helping students line up and one teacher focusing on reinforcing behaviors (you can probably get the gist now that we really focus on having teachers spread out at these times and everyone knows where they should be!).
  • Continue reading to see the rest of our routine and how we safely get students out of the classroom.
    End of day/ dismissal tips for special education

2) Use visuals to support your students AND staff.
Before I explain the rest of our dismissal routine and how we actually dismiss our students to parents and onto buses, I want to share the different visuals we use for students and staff. Let's be real... visuals are life for many of our students but also for teachers! Any visuals that your students need throughout their day should also be used during dismissal time!
  • At the beginning of the year, we use the same line up sign that we use during our recess transition to lead the line out side for the dismissal. We basically hold the sign at the front of the line to help students line up and follow the line from the classroom to our dismissal location. 

End of day/ dismissal tips for special education

  • We also add visuals to the back of staff ID cards so everyone knows exactly where each student should be going after school. We add bus numbers, after school program days, etc. This is super helpful at the beginning of the school year when we don't have all the new information memorized yet. You can easily just write it on a sticky note and tape in on your ID cards or you can print and laminate it and attach it your lanyard. It's so nice to have it handy and ready to go instead of trying to remember to grab a bus form/ paper! 
End of day/ dismissal tips for special education

3) Have a safe waiting area for students while you're dismissing other students.
This is my most important tip and the tip that has transformed our dismissal routine! If you do anything... Try to find a safe (and hopefully somewhat quiet) area for your students to wait as you dismiss other students. Let me explain a little more by explaining how we finish our dismissal routine.

Our dismissal routine continued:

  • We have already lined students up in the classroom (see above). At this time, we don't have 3 teachers anymore, now we are down to 2 teachers. We walk students down to our dismissal "waiting area." When we do this, we have one teacher at the front of the line and one at the back of the line. 
  • Our dismissal "waiting area" is a bench area right INSIDE the door/ entry way of our school. It's not the quietest place, but it has a bench and plenty of space for all of our students to sit down. From this spot, we can see the buses and parents walking up to the side walk from this area. During this time, we have one teacher in the "waiting area" with the large group of students and one standing right outside the door waiting for buses and parents. The teacher outside uses a walkie talkie to radio the teacher inside to say when the teacher outside is ready to dismiss 1-2 students (depending on what parent/ bus is there), then the teacher in the waiting area sends the 1-2 students out to the other teacher. We basically have all students in the "waiting area" and only transition students to parents/ buses 1-2 at a time. 
  • Note: This is different dismissal place than last year. Last year, we dismissed from an outside area and it was honestly SO much more stressful trying to keep eyes on all of our students and trying to keep all of our students in one safe area. Getting students on buses and transitioning them to parents 1-2 at a time has been SO helpful to make sure that we can keep students safe at dismissal and every student is going to the right place!

    Do you have any dismissal tips? Share them below in the comments! Share or save this post on Pinterest by clicking the picture below!
End of day/ dismissal tips for special education