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easy classroom management using good morning messages for bell work

Have you struggled with classroom management?

I know I have! I used to sit at my desk and research “classroom rules”, “classroom procedures,” and “classroom routines.” I would start with a plan think I had it all mapped out and things would go smoothly only to fail. AGAIN!

It was beyond frustrating. Then… that day came… the one I have been telling you about that changed my life as a teacher forever and I knew that classroom management was easy if I taught my students and not the curriculum.

Goodbye Endless Classroom Management Tools!

I have thrown out the clip charts, the behavior boards, the score board, and the classroom contract. 

Hello Good Morning Messages!

My Good Morning Message is the EASY way to manage your classroom all day long. It will address the behavior issues, the tattling, the lack of effort, and so much more. One quick and easy tool and countless rewards. What could be better!? 

How? 

Each morning I prepare my classroom for my students. They know I am eagerly awaiting their arrival as I have prepared a place for each of them. I have my Good Morning Message in place on the Smart Board. 
“DARE to be remarkable” is today’s message. Let’s look at how my students and I will use this today. 
My students will come in and read this. Their morning work is to figure out what this means and how does it apply to them.  Each student will have their own way of doing this. 
  • One person used a dictionary to define dare and remarkable
  • One person talked about the game truth or dare
  • One person brought up a Dr. Seuss quote
  • One person drew a picture to go with the quote
  • One person wrote a poem and another wrote a story
  • One person related it to the song below
After I do my thing, we sit on our desks and talk about this. Each student has had a chance to reflect in a way that they choose. They make the quote personal. They OWN it! 

From Message to Goal

This message becomes our goal for the day. What does it look like, sound like, feel like, smell like, or taste like? What are somethings we can do today to “Dare to be remarkable?”
We follow through with the rest of our morning routine and then begin our day. 

Uh oh! Here comes trouble!

Student #14 doesn’t understand our math assignment. He is frustrated and is now going off task. A table-mate turns to him and whispers “what is one that that you can do that is remarkable?” This reminds the student that the standard set is HIS best not the best of someone else. 
He writes his name on his paper. He turns to his table-mate and says “I understand step 1 but I do not understand step 2.” Table-mate says “do step 1 and we will do 2 together. I can be remarkable by being a good tutor.”
They complete step 2 and student #14 can finish the problem on his own. It takes a few more times walking through step 2 together before he gets it. 

Focus on what you CAN do

I always ask my students what they can do. We believe in the power of yet and being kind. This is continually reinforced. My students are asked to be the best version of them at all times. Sometimes reminders are needed but that is all. 

Simple, Easy Classroom Management

We will talk about this quote all. day. long. My students will bring it up throughout the day. If something occurs, we go back to this message and talk about what our goal for the day is. We have clearly outlined it in the morning. 
This is our ONLY goal for the day! 
This is important! Do NOT add any other goals to this goal! 

I have had more than my fair share of problem students. 

I had one student who would get mad and throw his desk across the room (on a good day). He had severe behavioral issues, wore an ankle monitor, and his dad had to escort him to and from the classroom due to issues before and after school. He was not allowed at home alone with his mother as he had hurt her. He was a mess to say the least. 
On this day, he picked up his desk, took it to the back wall, and then slammed it against the wall. He then sat downing facing the wall.I asked him what he can do to be remarkable today. He can listen and he can do his work but he will not participate with the class or look at anyone. 
Okay. We can do that. 
To anyone who walked into my room they would want to know why this student was isolated. I just let it go. We had set our 1 goal to be remarkable and he had told me how he was going to do it. I went about our day. I checked in with him one-to-one after each lesson and let him know I was there if needed. 

Good Night!

I never say good-bye to my students but rather good night. This small difference means that I will see them in the morning. Good-bye is too final for some of my students. 
At the end of the day, I ask students to tell me who they thought was remarkable that day and lived up to their goals. That student who stared at the wall and didn’t participate… I told him today he was remarkable. I wrote it down and I gave it to his father when he came to get him. 
His dad was shocked. The student was shocked. I told him I couldn’t wait for tomorrow. He asked if his desk could stay where he left it. I said it could as long as he wanted it to. 

The Next Morning

I prepare for another day by making a place for each of my students. On the desk facing the wall, I leave a small note saying “welcome” with a smiley face. I prepared his desk just where he had left it.  
We set a new goal based off of the new message and another day begins. 

So? WHAT HAPPENED? 

Mr. Man facing the wall… he began to trust me as I never changed his goals. He set them and told me what he was going to do and that is what I expected from him. He made the honor roll and only got into serious trouble 1 other time that year and it was at recess. 
His classmates recognized him for meeting his daily goals and after a week, he turned his desk around to face the class. Every once in awhile I would find his desk in a new place and he was slowly starting to participate. By the end of the year, you would have never known he was an issue. 

Relationships and Classroom Management require an investment of time!

Yes, my “good morning” routine eats up part of my day BUT the amount that we accomplish in a day more than makes up for it.
I do not have to spend time redirecting students or moving clips or keeping track of points. My students own their behavior from morning until night. It is their class, their education, and I am just the lucky one who gets to come along for the ride. 

Good Morning Messages

This original post became a series on Good Morning Messages and how they have changed and impacted my classroom:

Post 1: The Importance of Good Morning

Introducing Good Morning Messages

Post 2: When Good Morning Isn’t Enough

The heart-breaking story behind Good Morning Messages (get the tissues ready!)
Good Morning Messages are the building blocks of great classroom management.  
Good Morning Messages are used as a basis for our routines and procedures throughout the day.