My Morning Routine for a Socially Distanced Classroom

We all know that a good morning routine can make a huge difference towards how your day will play out in the classroom. And this year, incorporating social emotional learning and social time for our students is probably more important than ever before.

In years past, my students’ morning routine consisted mainly of some kind of social choice activity. This is a time that my 4th and 5th graders love to just sit with their friends and talk, draw pictures, play games, and engage in other appropriate non-learning related activity with their friends. This social time is SO important to helping us build our classroom community AND to help students have a soft start to get ready for learning.

Because of COVID-19 safety requirements this year, that routine had to change. So, knowing that I wanted to make sure I included SEL (social emotional learning) into my routine along with some kind of distanced social choice activities, AND given the fact that our arrival time is lengthened this year because of staggered arrival for distancing requirements, I’ve come up with this plan. (And I hope that it helps you with your own morning routine plan.)

First, my students will fill out and submit a Daily Check In Form. This is just a few simple questions but will allow me to monitor my students’ emotional well-being and offer help when it’s needed. It also allows my students to ask for that help without having to speak their request aloud for other’s to hear. I’ve create a Google Form for this, so it can be completed whether they are in the classroom or at home. You can grab my check in form for free by clicking on the image below.

Next, my students will write/type in their Make Today Matter gratitude and growth mindset journals. Incorporating a time for students to focus on gratitude and goal-setting is essential. In this daily journal, students write three things they are grateful for, three small, attainable goals for the day, and three things they are proud of themselves for. The attitude transition this practice can make when made a routine in the classroom is amazing! This year I’ll use only the digital version, but I have a digital and print option available if you’d like to add this day-changing routine to your own classroom. Click on the image below to grab this classroom must have!

For the rest of our arrival block, after completing their morning jobs (ordering breakfast and lunch and downloading/preparing assignments to be worked on at home), students will have a variety of either digital or distanced social games to choose from. Digital game board choices will include tic-tac-toe, connect four, the dot-square game, digital checkers, and other easy to create game boards in Google Slides. Student pairs will share the game board slide with each other to play. Many of these games can be found for free in a Google search. For students who love to draw, they can share a Google Drawing page and create an image together, or they can play a distanced game of Pictionary using their individual whiteboards at their desks. I’d love for you to share your ideas with me for more social digital activities to add to these options! Send me a message or comment to share so that I can share on the blog!

This year may be different, but having healthy, happy students, is still my number one goal. I hope my morning routine plan can help you work towards that same goal in your own classroom.

Happy teaching y’all!

Digital Open House Night

Whether you are preparing for a full virtual Open House or an in-person Meet the Teacher, using a digital open house pack will help make your event run smoothly, contactless (i.e. safer), and successfully.

My school is currently planning an Open House Night with scheduled appointments for families. So to make my Meet the Teacher meetings quick, effective, full of information, and safe (SAFER, I mean!) I created an Open House Meet the Teacher Pack for Distance Learning and In-Person events. This pack has everything!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Open-House-Meet-the-Teacher-Pack-Distance-Learning-and-In-Person-5811935

Class Information Presentation

The presentation Google Slides include a teacher introduction, teacher contact information, your schedule, class expectations, virtual learning information, lunch info, recess info, your procedures for snack and items from home, and so much more! These can be presented in the classroom on your whiteboard, inserted into a website, or generate a QR code (video tutorial in the product) for families to scan and view from the QR Poster Station signs included in the pack. Once parents have accessed the file, they can save to their personal drive or to their device for future reference.

Student Information Survey

Use this Google Form to collect important information, like birthdays, dismissal routines, addresses, parent contact info, and more. Send the responses to a Google Spreadsheet to have it all in one place and ready for quick access anytime you need it. I’ve included Key Ring Tags with a place for you to insert a QR code on the Student Information Tag so that you always have this information available (with use of your smartphone’s camera) when you need it! Again, families can access this via a QR Poster Station sign if you’re in-person, a link to the form can be inserted on a Google Site or on your Google Classroom, or you could even add a QR code linked to this form on your Student Postcards/Letters you send home before school begins.

Teacher Contact Cards

I’ll be handing these out to parents by request only, but these could also be mailed to families if you are virtual teaching. Included on the card is a place for email, phone, your website, Zoom link (or any digital link), and your Office Hours. These are completely editable for any of your needs and will help your parents stay in contact with you whenever needed.

QR Poster Station Signs

I’ve included these for in-person open house events to help create a contactless process. Poster options included are your Class Information Presentation, the Student Information Survey, a Class Website, and one Editable sign. All posters include directions for parents and a spot to insert a QR code linked to each of your Open House materials.

Open House and Blank Newsletter Templates

If you prefer using a Newsletter to convey your information, I’ve included an Open House template and a blank template to use whenever and however you wish. These files are in Google Slides, so it is easy to use these as handouts, to insert on a Google Site or your Google Classroom for families to view, or to send digitally.

Key Ring Tags

These are for you. I’ve found that having these tags on my teacher badge key ring is extremely useful and helps me save time. At the beginning of the year when you’re still trying to remember your schedule, student names, and ALL. THE. THINGS. these tags are a life saver! I’ve included tags for your class list, your schedule, student information (insert a QR code for quick access), dismissal info, pull-out service schedules, and one for common phone extensions like your nurse, admin, office, and collab teacher. These are all editable, so you can create a tag for whatever needs you have. These are also great for substitute badges, just not including the student information tag!

Website Banner Images

And for those of you creating a Google Site or other website for your virtual teaching, I’ve even included website banner images with the same theme. These come in six different colors, with text and without. The text on the images states, “Welcome to Our Class”.

I hope you’ll love using this Open House Meet the Teacher for Digital or In-Person resource for your Open House Meet the Teacher Day/Night whether you are hosting a virtual or in-person event. If you have any questions about the resource or how I’m using it for my own event, please let me know!

Grab this resource here!

Happy Teaching!

1-2-3 Magic Warnings and Class Dojo: The Best Behavior Management Plan I’ve Ever Used

First, I need to say that this is NOT original to me or my classroom! The 1-2-3- Magic discipline strategy is from the book, “1-2-3 Magic” by Thomas W. Phelan, PhD. It’s a brilliant strategy for parents, classrooms, and any other individual who has the responsibility of helping raise children. The difference is that I have simplified it just a little to work more effectively for my own behavior management style and classroom.

So, here’s the thought behind the plan … our job as teachers, parents, etc. is to teach children appropriate social behavior, and how to make appropriate social behavior decisions on their own, right? Well, that’s how I see it. So if all I do is set the rules and then give out consequences, am I really teaching them to manage their own behavior? No. But, you can’t spend your time giving out warnings and reminders all day without there being a consequence either. That’s where the 1-2-3 magic warnings come in.

The actual plan and process is extremely simple. When your child is making a behavioral decision that is not appropriate you give a simple warning of “1”. This can be a verbal warning, a hand signal, or some other signal. I’ve found that nonverbal signals are the most effective in the classroom because it doesn’t stop your teaching. I use hand signals by raising one, two, or three fingers depending on the stage of warning. After the warning, you immediately go back to teaching or whatever you are doing. If the child corrects the behavior, you’re done. But, if you’ve given a warning of “1” and the behavior doesn’t stop within 10 seconds, you now give the warning of “2”. Again, you allow 10 seconds. The same process applies here. If the behavior stops, you just move on. If the behavior does not stop within 10 seconds, you are now on “3”. What happens at “3” depends on your classroom plan. This could mean a short time out, a clip down on your behavior chart, or a loss of a point on ClassDojo (which is what I use), or any other number of things depending on what you do.

What I love about this process is that it’s quick, doesn’t stop your teaching or activity, and it allows the child to make a better choice, making them more accountable for their behavior choices. I’ve found that it works well for all students, but especially for students who are more impulsive and need a little more guidance and encouragement.

I’ve used the 1-2-3 magic warnings with a clip chart before and found that it worked just fine. However, I definitely prefer ClassDojo because it’s not visual in the classroom and therefore the students are not focused on it all day long, are not viewing other students’ points, and it is also visible to the child’s guardians if you connect families to your account. This means that you can message families about those behaviors the student is frequently choosing to engage in, making their growth more of a team effort.

Now for the next steps … in my classroom, if a child loses three points in a day(which would equal six to nine warnings altogether), my student fills out a Time-Out Form, which is taken home to be signed by the parent. Three of these in a nine weeks results in a behavior referral to the principal. This is actually a school-wide policy at my elementary school and it works really well. Or, if a child fills out a Time-Out Form and then continues to make poor behavioral choices throughout that same day, I immediately go to a phone call home and/or a behavior referral that day. This also works really well as a deterrent to continuing poor choices.

Just like any behavior plan though, it is not a magic fix for all students all the time. I haven’t found anything that is actually. What I have found, though, is that when I am consistent, this behavior/discipline plan works better than anything else I have done in the 15+ years I’ve been teaching. I think that’s true because it’s fair, and it allows the students to feel more in control, than controlled.

As always, if you’d like more information or have questions related to this post, please contact me. I’m always happy to help in anyway that I can. Or, if you try it out, I’d love to hear how it goes for you!

Happy Teaching!

First Week of School Lesson Plans to Teach Classroom and School Rules

This lesson plan set offers a collaborative, text-based, and student-led approach to teaching and establishing your classroom and school rules in the first week of school. You can use the five rules I use in my classroom and school, or edit to use your own.

Send your students on a scavenger hunt for examples of book characters and their peers exemplifying your classroom and school rules, in collaborative whole group or small groups. Use their findings to create, establish, and then display your classroom and “around the school” rules, giving your students the power, ownership, and motivation needed for your rules and expectations to be effective in helping your classroom run the way you envision.

Finally, a writing prompt helps put it all together for students to share a successful day at school, incorporating your positive behavior expectations into their day.

These lesson plans fit easily into your first week of school activities, get students thinking about successful behavior routines, and help build community through collaboration. The lesson plans also work really well as a follow-up to my Our Hopes and Dreams first day of school activity.

Our Hopes and Dreams – What I Do On the First Day of School

What are your hopes and dreams for the future?

In my last post, I wrote about the importance of classroom management and the five key elements that you MUST do to be successful. Today, I want to share my Our Hopes & Dreams lesson plan that I use to start that discussion with my students on the very first day of school. It’s not an icebreaker, it’s not a game … this is an activity that has meaning for the rest of the year!

You know how that first day can be! It’s stressful. It’s probably the longest day of the year. I used to spend time making endless lists of plans to keep everyone busy and happy for that first day and half of it never even got touched. What a waste of time!

Now, instead of those endless lists, I use this as a way to get to know my students, build community, establish and discuss our classroom expectations and routines, and incorporate ALL 5 Cs! That last one is big in my district:) This lesson plan is also a part of our Responsive Classroom strategies, so when I say I’m hitting everything, I really mean I’m fitting in everything I’m intentionally trying to work on in my classroom! And by the end of the day, I have a simple classroom display, along with our classroom expectations posters that we make collaboratively, that can be posted on a bulletin board or wall in the classroom for the rest of the year as a reminder of our reason for working hard and following the rules! It’s a win win!

It all starts with one question, “What are your hopes and dreams for the future?” If you’d like a copy of this first day lesson plan that will have meaning and make a difference for the rest of your school year, you can get it by going to my shop or clicking here!