The way we begin our mornings really sets a tone for the rest of the day. During my first few years of teaching, I didn’t realize how truly important those first 5 minutes of class were. I was always taught to teach “bell to bell,” but the stress of that expectation caused me to have a bit of a chaotic morning with my kids. Now, I feel very confident in the morning routine I’ve established – the kids respond well to it because they know exactly what to expect each day, it allows me to take care of any items before class begins (i.e., attendance, which I used to always forget to take!), and we start our day off on the right foot.
First, I’ll outline the typical first 30 minutes of my morning, then I’ll go into more detail for each section further down.
7:45-8:00: Students arrive and unpack
8:00: Bell rings, students line up outside
8:00-8:05: Attendance, get situated, morning announcements, pledge
8:05-8:10: Bell ringer or vocabulary work
Looks fairly simple, right? Because it is 🙂 You just have to introduce the routine and then stick to it – every day.
Here’s the breakdown.
School doesn’t start until 8:00, but parents are allowed to drop their kids off starting at 7:45. Because I have so many students (31 this year, 35 last year), I like to let them trickle in throughout those 15 minutes between 7:45 and 8:00, so they can unpack, get their homework out, put their backpacks away, etc. It makes it so much more mellow once the bell does ring and we get our day started. It works much better as opposed to having ALL 31 students trying to unpack at the same time.
During this time, I also have my Morning Directions PowerPoint displayed so the students know exactly what they are supposed to do and have ready when the bell rings at 8:00. Here’s one of my slides from this year, so you can see some of the things I include.
Having this displayed helps answer A LOT of questions that can come your way first thing in the morning, such as, “Are you collecting the homework?” “What am I supposed to do with this assignment?” “Where do you want me to turn this in?” etc.
In addition to having my Morning Directions displayed, I have calm music playing in the background. Think songs like John Mayer, Jack Johnson, Bear’s Den, etc. (I always make sure that it’s classroom appropriate though!)
Finally, I like to have the kids head back outside once their desk is all set to go, so that they can socialize outside with their friends.
At 8:00 the bell rings, and my students all line up outside our classroom. While they are in straight lines, I greet them and say good morning, and kind of reiterate the directions that are on the board. I also tell them that on their way into our classroom, they must stop and say good morning to me with a smile.
Which leads to the next step … I always start each day by greeting each of my students with a big smile and an enthusiastic “Good Morning!” Even if I’m not feeling it, I still do this every morning for my kids, and it actually ends up putting me in a great mood to start the day 🙂
Once all of the kids are in the classroom, they know it’s time to silently get everything together and begin working on their Bell Ringers or their vocabulary for that week. If they’ve finished both of those weekly assignments, they can silently read. Because of the classroom management plan I have put in place, this is an extremely seamless and smooth transition while everyone gets situated.
Morning announcements usually begin around 8:05, so students stop whatever they are doing at that time and sit without talking to listen to the announcements. While this is happening, I take attendance. Once announcements end, we say our pledge, and then students get right back to work on their Bell Ringer, vocabulary, or silent reading until I tell them we are beginning our day.
Using this process has been a game changer in our classroom. Our day starts off calmly, students are given the time they need to make sure they’ve turned everything in or have all of their items ready to go for that day, and it creates just an all-around good vibe for the day!
If you have any classroom management questions, be sure to check out our IGTV videos, where I’ve shared some of my most effective strategies that have truly worked for me in my classroom!