Hello and goodbye in a conversation. Good morning and good night with your family. An appetizer and a dessert at dinner. The sun rising and falling each day. What do all of these things have in common? They have a natural beginning and ending that the brain becomes conditioned to recognize.
The brain prefers knowing the start and finish of a task. As teachers, it is our job to help the brain of each student function at maximum potential. Creating a clean beginning and clean ending for our lesson, our day, our week, or our year helps the brain to stay efficient. Below I will highlight some of the fun and purposeful parts of our morning routine.
This post includes video examples of our morning routine. Stay tuned for a future post for examples of what happens at the end of the day.
In Studio 24, I have routines and rituals throughout the day that signal the brain to shift from one mode of thinking to the next. Below is a breakdown of my beginning of the day routine, also known as Hoopla. It takes a few weeks to get all the layers working as a finely tuned machine, but the routine really shifts the students' brains into a learning state. CAUTION: Routines should still contain novelty so routine does not become equated with boring.
The video below illustrates the first five parts of my beginning of the day routine, which I also describe in detail. If you have trouble viewing the video, you may also see it on YouTube.
Handshake Check-In Students enter and give me the secret class handshake invented by Connor and Jordan from my student teaching year. PURPOSE: This allows me to check in with every student and greet them on a positive note. I can tell a lot about how the day is going to be by reading the mood of each child in the morning.
Morning Dance. School bell rings. Lights immediately go off. Music begins. Dancing ensues. PURPOSE: This starts the day with enthusiasm and positive interactions among peers. It gets oxygen flowing to the brain and promotes the sense of being part of a team, as they are all participating in an activity together from the first moment of school. It also allows the student who is a minute late to still get his or her homework into the tray.
Nominations. On the last note of the song everyone sits. The morning leader asks for "nominations," which causes the class to sing a little chant. Three students get the opportunity to point out something great somebody else recently did. The leader picks his or her favorite of the three for the honor of Flipping the Sign. This is a concept I have borrowed from my favorite summer camp Special Days. PURPOSE: In many instances, peer to peer recognition is more powerful than the recognition a teacher can provide.
Flipping the Sign. Depending on the theme for the year, the message on my electronic sign is modified. When the sign is "flipped on," it signifies that we are in learning mode, similar to how the "On the Air" sign signifies that the radio broadcast is currently in session and nobody should enter the studio. My current sign says, "Excelling without Excuses." This is a motto borrowed from Northeast Middle School. PURPOSE: This reminds the students of the class motto and the fact that their brains are in learning mode.
Announcements. The sign flipper says, "It is time for morning announcements." The students do another cheer. The room falls silent. I MUST be ready to talk. As a teacher, being consistent and prepared is what will make this routine work. If the teacher is not ready to talk, the students will soon learn that they don't always have to be ready to listen. PURPOSE: This primes the students for all the important news of the morning. Keep announcements short and to the point.
National Anthem / Pledge. We sing the anthem and do the pledge to support the core democratic value of patriotism and to show respect to our country. After the pledge I ask them a random question or two about patriotism. For example, Who wrote the words for the national anthem? After which war were the words written? What does "indivisible" mean? PURPOSE: If the students were ever stopped by Jay Leno during his "Jaywalking" segment, they would look smart!
Morning Run. After the the questions, we go for our morning run. PURPOSE: This one to two minute run gets oxygen flowing to our brains and reinforces the important connection the brain has with the body. If it is raining, we do jumping jacks, sit-ups, or push-ups.
Good Morning Work. The students sit down and work on a handful of math problems while I finish up a bit of morning paperwork.
So, in under 15 minutes students greet their friends, do a unified dance, acknowledge their peers for good deeds, get the day's announcements, show respect for our country, reinforce the importance of exercise, put their brain in an awake state to learn, and start their math. It takes about three weeks to get that efficient. Don't do it all at once . . . layer it one step at a time.
For today we are officially off the air,