Having a solid morning routine is a universal balm for any person or field. Need help getting healthy and in shape? Get a solid morning routine. Need to be more productive while working from home? Find a morning routine to help. Need to have consistency and clear expectations in the classroom? Boom, morning routine.
What should a morning routine look like in the classroom?
Morning Routines for In-Person Learning
The most important thing for establishing a morning routine in a K-3 classroom is having the same student expectations every day. In my classroom, this looked like: students arriving, making a lunch choice, reading the morning journal prompt, working at their desk while conversing in groups, and then gathering on the carpet for morning meeting to start our day.
This never wavered, and the year I started this morning routine, my students were calmer and more focused than I'd ever witnessed. One of the benefits of having a solid morning routine is that you can loosen up other rules once students know the drill. For example, my students knew that it was okay to talk while they worked on their morning journal–as long as they were working.
I established consistency through the morning journal slides, which had the same format every day for the entire year; students read the prompt and used the student example or sentence starter to begin their writing. The content changed, but having a theme for each day of the week (Make It Monday, True Life Tuesday, etc.) really enhanced the consistency and empowered students since they knew what to expect.
(You can find a free week of these morning journal prompts here, by the way)
Moving into morning meeting worked the same way. We followed the same format every day (whiteboard slides again, for the win!) and it got to the point where students were running morning meeting by the end of the year.
We received so many compliments from substitutes who were incredulous at the smooth motion of our morning routine in Room 65.True Tales of a Good Morning Routine
We also adopted this same routine for our afternoon meeting, but that's a story for another day (or you can read more about it here).
The bottom line is, a good morning routine is at the top of my list for must-have structures in the classroom. It's just a no-brainer and there is no better feeling than starting everyone off on the same page in a smooth, cohesive way.
What About Morning Routines for Distance Learning?
Ahhh, great question. Luckily, the slide format of these morning routines make it super simple to transfer to a digital classroom setting. The morning meeting slides and journal prompts I use are all available in Google Slide format or PowerPoint, so you can share via Zoom, Google Classroom, Seesaw, and beyond.
One option is to post all of the prompts in a common shared drive, such as Google Classroom, at the beginning of the week. This is a good option if you are not meeting for live classes daily, so students can work at their own pace. Simply adding text boxes to morning meeting slides and morning journal slides and assigning to each student is a good way of encouraging digital participation; however, you can also ask students to complete the journal responses in a notebook.
Even if you aren't encouraged to host daily Zoom meetings, it might be beneficial to host a quick morning routine gathering with your class. This could be a 10-minute check-in in which you follow a morning meeting format using the slides, or even a pre-recorded message you share with your class.
Moral of the story here is the smoother your morning feels, the better the rest of your day will go!
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