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I do not have a classroom management plan. My Good Morning Messages and Morning Routine are the plan. I strongly believe a Good Morning equals Great Classroom management.

The past few weeks, we have been talking about greeting our students in the morning and how Mr. Harry Wong was only partially right. We discussed that fateful day six years ago when I failed as a teacher and how I approached my students completely changed.

Today, we are going to go over my morning routine and how THIS is my management plan.

Greet at the Door

Just as my district required and Mr. Wong taught us, I diligently stand at my classroom door each morning and greet each student as the come through the door. I smile and compliment each child (and secretly access their mood).

Good Morning Message

My students come into the room and go to their seat. They sit down and look at the Good Morning Message that is posted on the board. 
I have already prepared a place for them. Each student’s chair is down and they have a sharpened pencil at their desk waiting for them. My students decide HOW to respond to today’s message. Do they draw, write, create a poem, use their phone to find a song to share with us, etc… Really, my students can choose to respond however they feel is most appropriate to the prompt. 
The rules are… they must be quiet so others can work and they must respond. 
While my students are doing that, I go about my morning tasks that must be completed. When I am done, we start the next thing. 

Greeting Each Other

I come to the center of the classroom where our group table is
  • Teacher: Good Morning
  • Class (in chorus): Good Morning
  • Teacher: Please greet one another
My students are given 30 seconds to greet as many students as he/she can. We greet each other with a handshake, eye contact, and a smile. Later in the year we will change it up to fist bumps, high fives, or I allow the birthday child to make up a greeting of the day. 
Each child must greet every student in the class at least once in a week. This limits groups chatting. We discuss on Friday who did not greet everyone and why. If someone was absent, they are excused. If not, we chat.

Let’s Chat

Once our 30 seconds is up, we all sit on top of our desks with our feet on our chairs. Why? It is an uncommon occurrence to sit on a desk. It changes the atmosphere from one of student/teacher to one of a community. Alternately, you could bring them to a spot on the card but my room is not big enough for that. 
I set a timer for 5 minutes. 

Responding to Good Morning Messages

Today’s Assistant will read the prompt. He/She will direct this time of our morning. He/she can choose to pass it back to me if they prefer. Volunteers will be asked to respond to it. 
  • How does the prompt relate to you? 
  • How does the prompt relate to our class? 
  • How does the prompt make you feel? 
  • What does the prompt remind you of? 
These and other questions can be asked. I usually have 3-4 people share depending upon how long each response is. 
I jump in at the end to reinforce any behaviors that have been an issue using the prompt of the day. My prompts cycle through themes of kindness, self-esteem, motivation, perseverance, and the value of you to our classroom. 

Sharing My World

After responding to our prompt, I ask my students if there is anything they wish to discuss that happened last night (or over the weekend). This is usually about a game they won, a video game they played, meeting up with friends, etc.. 
Students can bring up any concerns they have at this time. We are out of erasers. There was a food fight in the cafeteria. I want to visit my old teacher and help out. You need to hear this new song. Do you know how to do the ….. dance? Can we learn it?  Whatever my students want to talk about, now is the time we will do it. 
Hopefully we are done in 5 minutes. If it is important, we will run longer. 

Today’s Plan

I outline all of the work we need to do today. I go over our schedule and share with my students everything I am hoping to accomplish that day. For every subject, we:
  1. Read the Objective
  2. Outline the lesson (ex. Read, Class Discussion, Anchor Chart, Centers)
  3. Tell the Assignment and Due Date ( Read this week’s story, 2 Centers Due Today)
There is very little discussion. 
It is a simple checklist read-aloud and posted on our whiteboard. The details will come with the lesson later. These items become our goals for the day.

Getting to Work

Once we have gone over what our goals are for the day, we get to work. We start at the top of our schedule and work our way down. The Teacher’s Assistant will check off each thing we have accomplished as we go about our day. 
My students know that if we have a few extra minutes here and there, that means we get to have fun. We can play that song and dance or play a game or have some free time to chat to our friends. 

Creating a Culture of Excellence

At the beginning of the school year, we put a lot of time and effort into our procedures. We practice them and tell our students our expectations but then we let it slide to the background in order to move on with our schedule. 
My morning routine takes 10-20 minutes a day but it actually save me time. How? 
  1. My students have read our objectives 1 time already. 
  2. They know what the assignment is and when it is due. 
  3. They know the order of things to be accomplished
  4. They know the rewards (of their choosing) for completing the tasks. 
  5. They are reminded daily of the procedures and expectations
  6. They know they are valued and wanted. (They have been seen and heard!)
  7. They have had time to wake up, socialize, and express their concerns. 
A lot of the distractions and behaviors in our classrooms are simply our students showing and telling us in the most inappropriate ways that they are not yet ready to begin learning. They need time to acclimate to the classroom. 
Good Morning Messages give students the time they need to be ready to learn! This solves 98% of the problems in my room!  Check back next week to learn how I use this message to stop off-task behaviors all day long.

Minute to Win It Friday!

I love to have fun and since I am teaching elementary children, they need a chance to be a kid as well. Some say my Minute-to-Win-It Friday is classroom management. I disagree but just in case you are one of them…

Here is a peak at how it works:

  1. Teams earn points for games we play in class throughout the week.
  2. Top 2 Teams compete in the Minute-to-Win-It Friday Challenge. 
  3. Winner gets the class trophy for the next week. 
A great way to learn academics in a fun competition! 

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!)

Post 3: Good Morning Equals Great Classroom Management

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.