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Why I Quit!

After much research, thought, and consideration, I decided to quit traditional morning work! For years, I have greeted my students at the door and immediately had them get to work on a morning worksheet to help wake their brains up.

This summer, I began doing a lot of thinking and exploration of this concept and it occurred to me that kids do not get enough time to play, talk, socialize, and simply be a kid. I have noticed that the majority of students struggle with social skills and interactions with one another. The more I thought about this, I began to think about the decline in comprehension and oral language skills that I notice among my students and I was struck by the idea that perhaps there is something to this idea of not having time to have conversations and enjoy creative play with their peers.

I decided that I was going to change how I do things. When my students come into my classroom each morning, they are greeted at the door and directed to look at the smartboard for basic reminders. They are instructed to unpack, sharpen their pencils, use the restroom, and go play.

Each day I set out a stem-type toy for them to create and play with friends. I provide markers and crayons and paper for those students who wish to enjoy creating something artistic. I allow them to talk and socialize and just enjoy themselves for 20 minutes at the start of our day.

Do you know what happened? Our morning is filled with giggles and our classroom is a vibrant energetic learning environment from the very start which sets the tone for the day.

I noticed an immediate shift in my student's behavior. I noticed that they were able to be quiet when instructed. They were better able to focus on the day's tasks. They were more energized, engaged, and ready to learn. They had the time they needed to just be kids in the morning and not rush into work. It's been an amazing change and all it cost me was 10 extra minutes of my traditional morning routine. What I gained was worth so much more!

I haven't completely eliminated morning work. In fact, I do find it beneficial as it helps my students wake their minds up early in the morning. I simply shifted my mindset and worked time into our morning routine. I created targeted and intentional morning work binders where the day's assignment takes less than 5 minutes to complete. The tasks serve as a review of skills learned the day before. Students are allowed to work together, and they can whisper through the assignment. They laugh and giggle and collaborate! They are being given opportunities to work on those all-important social skills. They are learning to be a part of a classroom community by being given opportunities to work together to figure out problems and resolve differences.

I challenge you to give it a try. Shift your focus from immediately requiring them to work and be quiet and give them opportunities to work together. You might just be surprised by the outcomes and positive benefits it will bring to your classroom. I know I was.



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