My first word of advice is to think about what you want for your classroom's structure and routines. Have a firm idea for yourself in place, then begin getting the children involved from the very first day. BE CONSISTENT! You can be firm by saying what you mean, but be loving and fair at the same time.
There are lots of wonderful ideas from educators on the web. You can freely use any of my ideas. If you visit an outside link please check the usage and copyright info for each site.
Here we go:
1. I pick a classroom theme. This year I chose oceans/sea. We have a mascot at our school...ACE the tiger, so I pull him into my theme.
2. We have school-wide rules and expectations http://teacherweb.com/VA/AmeliaCountyElementary/Stuart,Kathleen/ROARBrochure06-07.pdf
so our rules are set. However, we can decide how we'll reinforce those rules.
3. Each child has a sailboat, steered by a tiger of course, in the "ocean" (This is a decorated space on my magnetic blackboard.) If the children follow the rules, they keep their boat in the ocean. If they don't, they have to "dock" their boat (in a designated space) which means time in our Quiet Room during recess. Any child who keeps their boat in the ocean all day gets a sticker for their behavior chart. When that chart is full a trip to the classroom treasure chest in order.
4. Let me explain the "quiet room". Our first grade team decided this year that one of us would host the quiet room each week. During recess children ,who've broken the rules or haven't completed work, visit the quiet room. Here they can have their time-out quietly and/or have help completing work. After 5 or 10 minutes the children will join the other for the remainder of recess. It's working really well for us!
5. I decide on jobs and create a bulletin board. My theme is "oceans" so, we have a castle under the sea. Every child has a job for the week. This is important because you want the children to feel a sense of ownership in their classroom right from the very first day. These jobs will rotate each week. Here are my jobs (& descriptions) for the year, but keep in mind there are so many options. Pick jobs that work for your classroom and school.
Office helpers: These children take notes, etc. to the office and pick up messages from the office.
Line leader: This child leads the line to lunch, resource, etc.
Caboose: This child ends the line and helps the teacher keep an eye on the class.
Chalkboard helpers: These children clean the board each afternoon.
Ice cream delivery: These children help pass out ice cream on Fridays.
Calendar Presenters: These chidlren point to the month and day and leads the class in saying the days/months.
Light Inspector: This child makes sure the lights are turned out when leaving the room.
Door Holder: These children hold the door for the other students.
Supply Helpers: These children pass out papers, etc.
Afternoon Cleanup Crew: (**This is my fav!) These children walk around and inspect the room during pack-up for home time. If a child hasn't cleaned their own area, he is quietly called over to correct the situation. These children also peek in the desks to make sure agendas, papers, and folders have been placed in backpacks. I read a story to the ones who have completed their clean-up. When we walk out the door to go to the buses, our room is neat and tidy. I also know the children have everything. But the best part is that the children themselves have taken care of this. It's wonderful!