I am NOT a morning person. And I also hate chaos – even “organized” chaos (as if chaos could possibly be organized). So the time when my students entered the classroom was one of the most stressful parts of my day.
The biggest source of my stress was the fact that all 27 of my students would enter the classroom around the same time and want to talk to me. And I wanted to talk to them, too. But as amazing as we teachers are, it’s still impossible for us to hold a conversation with 27 people at once. And do all of the other stuff required in the mornings. This was not a good way to start the day. Some of my students really NEEDED to talk to me – they were sad or angry or hungry, and telling me about their problems would help them get a load off their chest.
Other students didn’t necessarily need to talk to me, but telling them “I can’t talk to you right now” led to them starting the day with a negative interaction rather than a positive one.
One small change in our morning routine fixed this problem. Not only did it help my mornings run more smoothly, but it set us up for a successful day. And the best part was, it didn’t require any extra work on my part, other than teaching my students the routine.
The Change I Made in my Morning Routine
Basically, I set up a routine that allowed me to have a quick conversation with all of my students.
1. As my students entered the classroom at the beginning of the day, I stood at the door to greet them.
2. My students would then “show me with their fingers” how they were feeling using the range of 1-5. 1 finger meant they were already having a TERRIBLE day, while 5 fingers meant they were feeling fantastic.
3. Next, my students would choose whether they wanted to give me a hug, handshake, high five, or simply say hello (for my students that didn’t like touching).
4. Finally, the students would enter the classroom and begin the rest of their morning routine.
So simple, yet so effective. Adding this to my morning routine helped me make sure that every single student (except for the tardy ones) started off the day with a positive interaction with me – which helped make the rest of the day more successful.
It also made it really easy for me to see which of my students really needed to talk to me. If I had the time, I would try to talk to my students that showed me 1 or 2 fingers immediately before they even entered the classroom. If I didn’t have the time right then, I knew I needed to look for available opportunities throughout the morning to talk.
It made such a big impact in my classroom that I started doing this at the next craziest time of day as well – right after recess. My class always took a bathroom break on our way to the classroom, so I used the time while students were waiting in lime to let each of them “show me with their fingers” how they were feeling and tell me about the inevitable injustices that happened during recess time.
My students loved knowing that they would have my undivided attention to tell me how they were feeling every morning – even though it was only for a few seconds. And what a difference it made!
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