This school year is going to be different for most. Whether you are experiencing virtual instruction, in-person instruction, or some combination of the two, it is important to create a positive classroom environment that is conducive to learning for all students. A key component to creating this responsive classroom is by starting the day on a productive note.
It is beneficial to focus the minds of students by transitioning them from their “home brains” to their “school brains” no matter where they are actually learning from. By doing this you are fostering an environment that has engaging academics, positive community, effective classroom management, and developmental awareness for students in different learning stages. Read on to discover three components to starting a productive school day.
1. Morning meetings
Morning meetings are a great way to start the day because students are able to greet one another and begin to prepare themselves to be challenged academically. Consider having students “popcorn” greet one another until everyone in the class has received and given a morning greeting. This fosters classroom unity and helps relationships develop among all students.
Morning meetings are also an ideal time to review the classroom rules, virtually or in person. By reviewing the rules, you are setting the expectations of what the class is going to look like for the day, and you can refer back to them if problems arise. This can be particularly helpful for students who learn best with structure.
2. Ice-breaker activities
After the morning meeting, begin an ice-breaker activity to get students engaged and ready to participate in discussions. This would be a great time to get students up and moving so that blood begins to flow to their brain. Activities like “Simon Says,” a morning dance party, or a quick yoga flow are all fun ways to get everyone involved.
The morning activity can also be a time to ask open-ended questions to stimulate conversation and reflection on students’ lives outside the classroom. Take this time to build relationships between students and with students. Your questions can be as simple as “What is one thing you learned yesterday?,” “What is one thing you want to accomplish today?,” or “How are you feeling this morning?”
3. Guided breathing and meditation
Guided breathing and meditative practices are great for students of any age. This can be as simple as leading a breathing exercise for a few minutes before diving into a lesson or practicing mindfulness with a pre-made video. Try to carve out 10 minutes in your morning routine for some form of meditation.
Incorporating mindfulness and meditation in the classroom helps students to calm their minds and also works to reduce anxiety and build self-confidence. Teaching students the importance of reflection and awareness from a young age can help them later in maintaining positive self-care habits.
While these three aspects of starting a productive school day might seem small, they can have a large impact on the social-emotional wellness of your students. Fostering a productive classroom space builds social awareness, increases confidence, develops empathy, and improves listening and communication skills. This emphasis on social-emotional wellbeing in the classroom shows students that how we teach them is just as important as what we teach them.
This school year is going to look different than ever before, and that means productivity might too. It is important for educators to remember that with all of the changes coming their way, individual progress might be slow. Take time to acknowledge and celebrate even the smallest of victories because there are many new hurdles in the way to reaching accomplishments. For more information on teaching during the upcoming school year, check out this blog post on social-emotional learning and this blog post on teaching students during a crisis.