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How to Make Morning Routines Manageable
Episode 309th January 2024 • The Social Studies Teacher Podcast • Kirsten Hammond, The Southern Teach
00:00:00 00:15:08

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Are you the teacher with the peaceful and orderly classroom as soon as the day begins? Or do your students noisily enter the room and ask endless questions about what to do next?

Starting off right each day is not only beneficial for the students, but the teachers as well. It never feels good to be rushed and frazzled as students come in each day roaming around the classroom or unsure of what to do when they arrive. That's where morning routines come in! 

This episode is filled with tips to help your mornings move more smoothly!

Episode Highlights

  • Set those routines right from the start
  • Leverage morning slides
  • Keep students busy
  • Predictable routines
  • Incorporate classroom jobs

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Kirsten 1:06

This is the social studies teacher podcast, a show for busy elementary teachers looking for fun and engaging ways to easily add social studies into their classroom schedule without feeling overwhelmed or pressed for time. I'm curious to know if you southern teach an educator and mom who is passionate about all things, social studies, I love sharing ideas and strategies that are low prep and easy to implement. So let's dive in together.

Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of the social studies teacher Podcast. Today, we are going to talk all about how to make your morning routines in your social studies classroom and upper elementary classroom much more manageable. Now you might be in one of two camps, you're that teacher who has everything orderly, and students come in so nice and quietly, and they know exactly where they need to be and what they need to do. And that's awesome. But you may be one of those teachers who your students just come in super noisy. There's some kids fighting in the corner, or there are some kids that are don't know what to do, despite the fact that it's February. And it's been a while that we have been doing the same thing each morning, you have people asking you what do I do when I'm finished? All of that kind of stuff. So it's okay, if you're in one of those two camps. I was in both at one point I know especially, you know, at the beginning of my teaching career, there were a lot of people asking me questions about what they're doing, what they have to do when they're finished, and all of that kind of stuff. And so I knew I needed to change some things. And I implemented some strategies that I'm going to share with you today that helped make morning routines much more manageable. Are they perfect? No, sometimes my students will come in super noisy and they're excited about something that might be because I have an elf sitting somewhere and it's, you know, it just depends on the situation. So it may be that they're excited about something that's happening or they you know, if it's around the holidays, there's our elephant a shelf that's doing some things that are naughty, and that elf is getting into trouble and that's okay too. But in general, I'm gonna be here to share some tips on how to make morning routines manageable from the beginning of the year to the end when they are itching to get out on summer break.

So one tip I have for you is to make sure you set the routines from the start, it is so important to establish routines. Beginning on day one, they have that expectation of what they need to do when they come in. Maybe it's every day, they need to unpack their backpack and hang it in their cubby or put it behind their chair or set it next to their desk. Maybe they have to sharpen their pencil, sharpen two pencils. Decide on what routines you want your students should do, when they come in the classroom every day, whether they're coming in tardy, or they're coming in. When the bell rings. A second tip I have for you is consider projecting a morning slide on the board that students can see when they come in. This can be something super simple, you just open up PowerPoint. And you can add some steps and a cute little background and all of that kind of stuff. But you just add steps of what you want your students to do at the beginning of the day, if you want to have a fun message, like Good morning class, or today is blah, blah, blah. Maybe it's somebody's birthday, you can write somebody's birthday up there. But have a list of steps of what you want your students to do. Something that I'm just trying to think back on last year, we had crates, every student had a crate where they would put their backpack and their belongings in addition to their desks. And they were sitting in rows because of the pandemic. But I had my students with a morning slide I had my students come in, they were to unpack their backpack, and any homework or materials, put it in their desk and put their backpack in their crate, they had to put their lunch kit in their crate. And then they would get started on Morning work. When they were finished with morning work. They would work on what I call AI time or independent time. And there are some certain things they can do during independent time they could read a book, they can work on their work in progress folder working on unfinished work that could write a story. So just having that I time that was our big thing is after you're done with something, you work on it time. And we would always talk about, you know, what do we do in ICT time is drawing okay coloring, thinking about what we would prioritize if there's something in our work in progress folder that isn't done and it needs to be turned in and it's for greed, you need to work in your work in progress folder first before you read a book or do anything else. So consider adding a slide with the list of steps that can also help you be consistent on setting those routines from the start.

So really, the first and second tip can kind of go in together. If you have that on the board every single day, they will know exactly to what to expect. And then if they have a question, I don't know what to do. Just point them to the board. So it just gives them more accountability of what they're supposed to be doing. A third tip I have for you is to give students something to work on. So going into an activity thinking about what you want your students to do as they come in. Do you want them to write in their journal do a writing prompt or free write? Do you want them to work on a math warmup? Do you want them to work on a daily language warmup or grammar warmup or reading warmup decide on what you want your students to do every day as they come in and try to maintain that consistency. So you don't want to try to switch it up, try to keep it just super simple. Maybe they are just finishing up their homework or they're checking their homework, whatever that morning task is. That is what they want to make sure they are expecting as they come in at the beginning of each day.

A fourth thing, in order to make morning routines manageable would be to be consistent and predictable. So staying consistent is key. You don't want to switch things up too much. Because if so, then the students are going to be confused and unsure of what to do. And then you have some behavior issues that might occur. So thinking about ways to be predictable, have that morning slide up. Maybe some days, the morning slides won't be up or won't work. And that would actually happen to me. i There were some days that I just forgot to put the morning slide on, but they knew the routine by that time they knew exactly what they needed to be doing anyway. And they knew there was no fire burning in the classroom or anything, nothing like that they knew what to do, because it was a consistent routine that we had practiced every day. So regardless of whether or not the morning side was on the board, they knew what to do. So just make sure that what steps that you take are predictable and they do not change as often. And this can be really great for your kiddos that may have some sensory issues or if they They may have some plans, behavior plans where they do need to have some kind of consistent routine that helps reach them. In addition to students who have some trouble following directions, just, they know what to expect, they can actually go through the process because it's something that they anticipate every day, it's nothing that's going to change.

The fifth way to make morning routines manageable is to incorporate classroom jobs. And this was one of my big ones that I had, I made sure every student had a job. And despite the fact that we had to wear masks, it was definitely doable to have classroom jobs. So I had a student who was a calendar helper, and they would switch up the days, they would switch out our calendar, I had a student who would take lunch count every morning, so they were my lunch count person. And they would have, I gave them a sticky note pad. And they there was a calendar displayed with all of our lunch menu items. And they would ask the students which students were buying lunch, and they would do all of that, and that person would give the lunch cap to me. So having jobs is a really great way to make your morning routine manageable. So that leaves you time to do any admin task or anything to prepare for the beginning of the day, whatever that may be. So having your students accountable, and rather than you trying to hurt everybody around every single day, giving the students the opportunity to help you with jobs is a really great way to make things a lot more manageable. Because if something were to arise, you can handle it knowing that your students are able to handle themselves. And it just fosters a lot more independence, especially in the upper elementary level. That's kind of what you want to go towards.

I have a blog post I created on I'll put this in the show notes. But last year, I made a COVID safe classroom jobs that students can still do. So that's a really great resource if you're looking for some classroom jobs idea. So I'll make sure to link that in the blog post, just so that you have that. But I would have my students with lunch count, I had calendar helper, and those were just really great ways for them, and they liked doing it too.

All right, here is your creative action tip for today. I want you to map out a plan on how you envision your morning to go. How is it currently going? How do you want it to be? What do you want students to do each day. So map out the steps and practice the routines everyday with your students so that it becomes a habit for you and your students. And they know what to expect. So that maybe if you have a sub, they still know what to do regardless of whether you're there or not. It just makes things more predictable. And it just it's always nice to start in a seamless way where it's manageable, and it's just something that they can ease into.

Before you get into the actual learning. I have something really cool for you that I think you might thoroughly enjoy. If you're an upper elementary teacher who is looking for more ways to see what you can do to make your classroom community run more smoothly and efficiently, and build that community of learners in a positive learning environment.

I have the really cool podcast series, it's completely free. And it is a five day podcast called The essential classroom community podcast series. So each day for five days, you will get a short mini podcast episode all about four key strategies that I've implemented into my classroom that have worked well for my students. And I want to share that information with you as well. So if you want to sign up for that, you can go to the southern forward slash podcast series. And it'll give you some really great tips and ideas for how to incorporate essential components of a positive classroom community. So again, I will of course link that in the show notes. So make sure you check that out and see if that's something that will be of interest to you.

Well, that's all I have for today. I'm so excited to see you again soon. Thanks for listening to the social studies teacher podcast. If you enjoyed listening to this episode, hit that subscribe button and leave a review. I would love to hear your thoughts. You can also find me on Instagram at the southern teach. I can't wait for you to join me in the next episode for more teacher tips and strategies