Are mornings hectic in your classroom? Are your kids coming in AMPED UP and chatty? Does this lead you to feel frazzled and frantic? I’ve been there and it can be frustrating and near impossible to turn that energy back around. Below, I’m going to share some ideas for developing a calm classroom morning routine in upper elementary.
1. Get Organized
The first step begins before the students have even arrived. Making sure that you’re organized for the day, sets the tone for your day. If you’re scrambling to get organized as your kids enter, it will be more difficult to greet them in a calm fashion. Have your plans ready and any preparations done. That way, you’re free to greet students as they enter.
2. Create a Positive Atmosphere
Greet your students at the door. It gives you the opportunity to have a quick conversation with each and every student. This allows you to notice any students who might be “off”. It also makes them feel special and isn’t that how you want your students to feel as they enter the classroom?
Write a positive morning message for students to read as they enter. Having a morning message on display is good for two reasons. First, it allows me to write a nice message that gives students the warm and fuzzies or gets them excited for the day. Second, it helps to convey any important information that students might need first thing in the morning. This frees me up to greet students instead of giving them reminders to do something or tell them what’s expected.
Make sure students have eaten. My school has a grab and go breakfast program where students can grab a snack in the morning if they haven’t had breakfast. Allowing time for students to eat in the morning can make or break their day. Another option is to have granola bars on hand for the handful of students who may not have had breakfast.
Play music. Choose music with your class in mind. Depending on the class, calming music might be most helpful if they need to calm first thing in the morning. If you have a pretty mellow group, playing some “pump up tunes” might help increase the energy in the morning.
3. A Clear Classroom Morning Routine
Have a clear classroom morning routine for students to follow as they enter. I start “training” my kids on day one to follow our classroom morning routine. Ours goes as follows. First, students put their shoes on and bring their agendas and water bottles into the classroom. Next, they move their attendance magnets to show me they are present. Third, they read the morning message and review the day’s schedule. Last, they read independently or switching their books in their book boxes.
4. Soft Start Activities Or Independent Reading
Let students ease into the day. I used to firmly believe in maximizing every single moment of every day. With that being said, I believe that students should be doing work right away in the morning. For many years, I had students come in and start on our morning math problem.
Although I still love incorporating daily math problems into our daily routine, I no longer do “bell work”. I prefer students to come into the classroom and ease into the day.
Upon reading The Book Whisperer and reflecting on how often students get to read independently and strictly for pleasure, I decided to incorporate independent reading to our morning routine. Now, my students start reading independently once they have completed our classroom morning routine.
Another option that I’ve seen many teachers try is having students select an activity of their choice for a “soft start”.
5. Morning Meeting
Gather as a class for a morning meeting. In our class, students will read until announcements. That’s their cue to put away their books and meet on the carpet for our morning meeting. For most kids, morning meeting is one of their favourite parts of our day. They love gathering as a class community and feeling all that “togetherness” before we move on to academics.
A Good Classroom Morning Routine Can Make Your Day
I truly believe that whether or not your classroom morning routine goes smoothly can make or break your day. It takes some work to “train” those upper elementary students but once they’ve got it, you’ll be so glad you did it. It will free you up to greet your students and check in on any that seem “off” as they come in.
Let Me Make It Easier
I can’t roll out a calm classroom morning routine for you but, what I can do, is supply you with two weeks of morning meeting slides so that you have one less thing to plan.
Looking for more?
Check out my morning meeting slides resource to have your morning meetings planned for you for the entire school year.
Cheers (with coffee, of course) to the calm mornings in your future!