I’m sure I don’t have to preach to other teachers about the importance of a morning routine, from the things you do each morning to get yourself/kids ready to the things you do each morning at school before you even start teaching, to the routine you teach your kids when they come in each morning. A strong morning routine is so crucial. I could blog for days about how crucial routine is in your day, and specifically how important it is to start your day in a consistent way. But I won’t do that.
Instead, I’m going to ask one question. How do your kids enter your classroom daily? When I was in the classroom, I always shook my students’ hands as they entered and greeted them by name. The procedure itself looked different in both schools, but the bottom line was the same. Each student was getting a firm, warm handshake and eye contact each morning. I think it’s SO HELPFUL for a variety of reasons. A) It gives you a chance to get your eyes on each student and see how they’re coming in (are they unusually sad, sleepy, confused, worked up, etc?). B) It teaches students how to give and receive a handshake, which is a really important life skill that they may or may not be taught at home. C) In some cases, it controls the flow of students entering your classroom so there aren’t 26 students trying to get into the door and to their cubby and to the homework table all at the same time. D) It essentially takes the attendance for you because you see each kid as they come in. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. So I’m going to give you two scenarios of how this could work for you.
*Scenario A: When I taught first grade, I picked up my students from breakfast in the cafeteria daily, so most of my students were arriving to the classroom at the same time. The morning routine I taught was to have students stand on the white line (part of the floor) and quietly wait for their turn for their morning greeting. (To be clear, it takes about 2 minutes to greet all 26 students.) I would teach them to stand straight, extend their hand and make eye contact. I would greet them by shaking their hand and saying, “Good morning, _______!” They return the greeting by shaking my hand, making eye contact, and saying, “Good morning, Ms. Elsener!” Then they would walk into our classroom, go to their cubby, hang up their backpack and coat, and put their homework folder in the bin. From shaking the first student’s hand to the last student to put their folder in the bin and sit on the carpet for morning meeting took about 5 minutes.
*Scenario B: Last year, I taught kindergarten and students arrived directly to the classroom in a staggered manner. In this scenario, I would make sure to stand at the door of our classroom and greet each student as they arrived. They would then continue in to the classroom, put their homework folder in the bin, and then go to their cubby to hang up their coats and backpacks. After they hang up their things they would go to their table to eat breakfast and work on their morning work.
If you’re not shaking your students’ hands each morning as they enter I would encourage you to try. It’s an incredibly quick move that really pays off throughout the entire day. If you’re not sure how to fit it in, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) your morning routine and we can put our heads together.