How To Create A Stress Free School Dismissal Every Time

It’s here!  The back to School season is upon us!  For many of us, this is a very exciting time.  It is sometimes the part of the year that brings some of the most stress.  The very first day of school is typically the time that keeps me on edge.  What will I do on the first day to keep them busy?  Will I have enough materials to keep them engaged?  What will I say?  But, the most important question is:  How will they go home for dismissal?  Effective classroom dismissal procedures are key!
Dismissal time can be one of the most harrowing times of the day; especially during the first week of school.  Even more so on the FIRST day of school!  For most of us, the ultimate goal for the first day of school is to (1) keep everyone safe (2) teach the rules and procedures; particularly as they pertain to behavior and (3) to make sure that everyone makes it home safely.  Right?  Your list may not flow in this order, but I’d say that these are somewhere in the top 5.  I came up with a plan to create stress-free classroom dismissal procedures.  

How to Create a Stress-Free School Dismissal Every Time


Using Backpack Tags to Help With Classroom Dismissal Procedures

To keep myself from feeling disorganized and frantic, I began using tags on my students’ backpacks that let me know exactly where they are supposed to go once the school bell rings.  My main focus is usually on the bus riders since this category is where most of my students fall.  Quickly being able to know what bus each student rides is extremely helpful in creating a stress-free classroom dismissal procedure.
At my school, dismissal is sometimes divided up and different staff members are responsible for certain sections- like Car Riders and After School, so you really just have to trust that your students are well taken care of and go where they need to be.  Having the tags on their backpacks really helps me with this type of system. 
 A little girl with a backpack. The backpack has a dismissal tag on it. The tags help to have great classroom dismissal procedures.
Click on the photo to get your set of Dismissal Tags!

Prepping Your Backpack Tags

Once I have the coveted list of bus numbers, and I know which buses my students will ride, I prepare the cards at home.  I write the bus number, or van name, on the front of the card.  Then, I write the student’s initials on the back of the card to help me save time later.  The initials help to speed up the process since I know that time on the first morning will be limited.  Shortly after students enter the classroom on the first day, I attach the dismissal tags to their backpacks. 
Remember:  A parent, Paraprofessional, or Student/Teacher Helper could assist you with this.  If a parent from the previous year drops in to say hello and to see if you need anything, don’t be shy about asking them to assist you. ;  ) 
If you don’t have time in the early part of the morning, have students place their backpacks in their seats (or on their desks) as they head out for Specials/Special Area.  Attach the tags while they are gone.

 A Quick Tip for Organizing Students for Dismissal

During the first week of school, you may want to clean up the classroom and have everyone seated on the carpet a few minutes earlier than usual.  Use this additional time to talk to each student about where they are to go and/or who they are to follow to a certain location.  It may even be helpful to group students on the carpet by how they travel home.  Another helpful tip is to assign everyone a buddy, and share that they are each responsible for making sure that their buddy makes it to the location.  The buddy system is so helpful with creating a stress-free classroom dismissal procedure!

Setting Up Your Transportation Tags

A pictorial on how to prepare the backpack tags for use.


Print the desired number of transportation cards on cardstock, cut them apart, and laminate them for durability.  Then, use a single hole punch to punch a hole in the top corner.  Use a safety pin (if you are sure that they won’t pose a safety threat) or a pipe cleaner to attach them to your students’ backpacks.  The tags are pretty durable once laminated.  I leave them on my students’ backpacks all year long.  I have found that the pipe cleaners typically last throughout the year, too.  

Keeping Track of Your Students For Dismissal

I also use transportation sheet that I keep on a designated “Dismissal Clipboard”.   Click on the images to get your FREE dismissal sheets.  All of the students’ names are listed under how they travel home for the day.  On this sheet, I also added an alternate section for those students whose parents work at the school.  This way I can keep note of where everyone is at a quick glance.  This is also really handy for times when someone else has to take over your class for you or when there is a Substitute Teacher.
Click on the photo to get your free dismissal sheet!
Click on the photo to access the second page of the form.

Grab your Backpack Dismissal Tags and Dismissal Clipboard form and start preparing for a successful transition to the end of your day.  I hope that this brings a little extra sense of peace to your dismissal time.  

Happy First Day of School!


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Hi, I'm Tania!

I help creative and time-conscious teachers plan student-centered lessons that interest and motivate student learning so that lesson planning takes less time and is actually enjoyable! 

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