SETTING THE TONE
Roll out of bed, gulp as much coffee as possible, rush to school, and frantically fly by the seat of your pants in the morning…does this sound like the typical start to your day? Believe it or not, the positive tone in your classroom doesn’t just rely on the students, it starts with YOU. If you are in a positive mindset, your students will be able to sense that and it automatically sets a positive tone for the day before they even arrive. Try waking up 15 minutes earlier, taking a little extra time for a slower start to your morning. Arrive at school a few minutes earlier, set out the things you need for the day, savor that sip of coffee and the quiet classroom before the day begins. It is worth losing the 15 minutes of sleep for a positive school day!
Greeting each child by name as they arrive is a great way to foster a positive learning environment. Students can count on seeing me at the door as they trickle into the classroom. This small gesture makes them feel seen and special. You can make this even more fun by allowing students to choose how they would like to be greeted in the mornings! Provide options such as: wave, hug, high-five, or dance party! As they walk into the room, they can point to the option they’d like! This also gives them the pride of making their own decision. Sometimes they may not want a giant bear hug, maybe they’d like a high-five instead, but then again, they may have had a hard morning getting out the door for school and they WANT a big, warm hug to start the day!
CONSISTENT MORNING WORK
A productive way to start the day! Consistent daily tasks as students enter the classroom will help them to know what to expect for the day. Bonus: this will also streamline your lesson planning with little preparation – we could all use less prep time for the week, am I right?! This can include a task written on the board, a daily checklist to ensure students are prepared for the day, or even a funny riddle or secret code they have to crack! I choose to use Google Slides. These slides are prepared in advance so that all I have to do when I come into my room in the morning is turn on my computer and pull them up on the screen. Students know to grab their journals and get started. For added consistency, the task for each day of the week has the same theme.
Morning Work Examples:
Make It Monday – students make a list of some sort and illustrate each item
Example: Make a list of items in the grocery store and draw a picture of each item.
Trace it Tuesday – Students can trace anything! I’ll usually put a letter or number I’d like them to practice on this slide. This is a great opportunity to practice letter and number formation.
Write It Wednesday – Students write the sight words of the week in sentences.
This or That Thursday – the class FAVORITE! Two options are listed on the board. Students use their journals to write which option they prefer. Then, after everyone has written, we tally up the answers.
Example: THIS OR THAT: Pizza or Tacos? Students will answer in a full sentence and draw a picture to match: “I like pizza more because…”
Free Choice Friday – Students can choose to write and draw about a topic of their choice!
*Bonus Fun Friday option: Fluency and Fitness is an excellent Fun Friday Activity! Typically, I will choose a concept we have learned during the week and that will be the Fluency and Fitness activity we review on Friday! Students love to start the day dancing and this gives them something to look forward to on Friday mornings!
Make the most of your morning! Once students have entered the classroom, prepared for the day and settled in, start your daily Morning Meeting. This is a short 10-15 minute time together, but I promise it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE! Morning Meeting is a special time that I form relationships with my students and they bond with each other. A Morning Meeting is important because it fosters a positive classroom community
Goals of a Morning Meeting:
To set a tone for respectful and engaged learning.
Build a positive community.
Model and practice social and emotional skills
Merge social, emotional and academic learning.
Components of a Morning Meeting:
Ok, hear me out on this one! I know this sounds like a silly tip, but as a teacher I know this is easy to forget. Between curriculum, meetings, emails, copies, and everything in between… being fully present in the moment is difficult for us. The best days I have in the classroom are days where I take a deep breath and RELAX with my students. Of course we are still learning and marking off the to-do list, but we are having fun at the same time. Everything will get done! When you notice yourself tensing up, feeling anxious, or stressed about the day…pause, take a breath and try to relax. Laugh and have fun with your kiddos. No matter how young, children are intuitive and they can tell when you feel anxious or stressed. This can affect the way they are feeling about the day as well. Whenever I am able to relax and enjoy my time with them, the entire day is more happy. Remember to be fully present in the moment.