Diary of a Busy Teacher: Morning Routines

Teachers, ever wish your morning routine would go as smoothly as you planned for it to go? In the first installment of our new "Diary of a Busy Teacher" series, 4th-grade teacher, Lisa Koplik, shares some important lessons learned when the expectations for her morning routine don't necessarily match up with reality.

Diary of a Busy Teacher: Classroom Morning Routine

In an elementary school classroom, there are a number of expectations that we, as teachers, look for in various parts of our day. From morning routines to math and reading, there are behaviors and actions that we hope to see in ourselves and in our students. Read on to find out how different reality can be from our expectations!

…there are behaviors and actions that we hope to see in ourselves and in our students.

Expectations for your morning routine: All students will arrive on time. They recite the Pledge of Allegiance in perfect unison with the utmost care and quickly and quietly enter the building. Each child smiles as you greet them with an enthusiastic “Good morning!" They then turn in their homework prior to writing down that night’s assignment. Finally, they will calmly walk over to the rug to begin morning meeting. All of this process takes approximately five minutes.

Reality check: The bell rings as I frantically race down the hall to print the math pages for math, which happens right after morning meeting. T-minus two minutes until the kids stampede up the stairs. Oh God, I have to pee too! Do I go now or to wait two hours until the kids go to Library? Looks like it’s another just wait day!

I look out the window and watch my class during the Pledge. Half of them aren’t even looking at the flag. The other half's mouths aren’t moving. Little Johnny at the back of the group is poking Little Stevie in the ribs. I shake my head and look back to the whiteboard where the morning meeting message is supposed to be—nothing is written. Too late now.

The reality of an elementary school teacher's morning routine is that there is always more to be done. And even if the day is perfectly planned and prepares, something always happens.

Last week, a student walked into the classroom, asked to tell me something about her family, and promptly started crying.

The week prior, the school psychologist came in just as morning meeting began and needed to borrow a child.

Yesterday, I forgot to write the morning message, four kids didn’t turn in their homework, and the schedule said "October 2018" because I erased the date and forgot to write it back in. Oh, and one kid bopped another kid on the head with a yoga ball.

Here’s the thing: kids love routine. Adults love routine. Everybody does better sticking to a set schedule, and as teachers, to even create a semblance of a schedule creates a safer, more cohesive classroom environment and community. But it’s okay if you forget to write the message on the board one day. If you forget the date, some kid will definitely fill you in. When they forget to turn in their homework, you’ll notice and remind them.

Teachers are often anxious about things not going as planned. We beat ourselves up over the fact that we couldn’t get to everything we wanted, or that a lesson took much longer than expected. But as long as we create the semblance of a routine and try our best to somewhat follow them, kids notice, and they’re happy. They rarely notice the days I forget the message or mess up the date. They look forward to our routine. That is what makes them comfortable in the classroom.

Lesson learned: Your morning may never look perfect. But if you follow a set routine; your class will learn to expect it, appreciate it, and love it. That in itself is enough to be proud of!

Stay tuned for further posts outlining the expectations and realities of my day (and likely yours too!) as a teacher. Next week, we tackle math!


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Author Bio:

Lisa Koplik is a fourth-grade teacher at the Greenwood School in Wakefield, Massachusetts. She loves teaching math, reading intense read-aloud books that promote complaints when she has to stop reading, and figuring out educational games to play with her students. Check out her video series on classroom management!

Want more from this author? Check out Lisa's advice on classroom seating or creating meaningful classroom rules with your students.
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