Ok, bear with me. This morning while I was at the gym I was on a rest between sets and came across a tweet from Pernille Ripp. As she was going from one reading conference to the next on the plane she reflected on some passengers in her upgraded first class area already ordering Vodka, in contrast, she was ordering cheerios and milk. I joking said that should be a blog title but as I continued to work out it became less of a joke in my mind. The idea of how we start our day kept popping up.
This summer I have started my day the same most mornings. I go out and play with the dogs, then get them breakfast followed by getting ready to head for the gym. I mix up my pre-workout and BCAA’s and then head to the gym. I set up my equipment and stretch to warm up. The dogs don’t let me forget that I need to play with and feed them so that is a given. Where things can at times go off the rails is in the space between dog time and gym time. I might forget to pack a protein bar, leave my BCAA’s on the table or forget deodorant (it is 5 am so cut me some slack). When I get to the gym I might forget to warm up (do to be frustrated by the forgotten items or worried about others in the case of forgotten deodorant. My workout is not as good, I might be tired, I might even hurt myself from my careless rushed approached.
Now I take and look at this idea of starting the day the right way and look at the classroom.
As our students arrive what are we doing? We can’t control how their morning started before they get to us but we can have things in place to address the missing morning “to-dos”. So let’s look at what we can do to take our morning from a Vodka before 8am to a Milk and Cheerios kind of morning.
- Keep some breakfast bars or other simple snacks on hand. Students that are hungry are not students that can focus. I keep cliff bars or granola bars. Some take advantage of the simple snacks and other “take advantage” a box at Costco for 40 plus bars is like 8 bucks if a student is going to take them even when they don’t need them it won’t break the bank. By allowing them to do this, however, it will show that to me them feeling ready to learn is more important than controlling if they can have a granola bar or an apple.
- Soft Starts, (I have seen this term attributed to Sara K Ahmed she is on Twitter and you should follow her). The soft start is a way to start the class that helps students to get settled and ready to do the work of the class through some low/no risk activity like free reading or writing. This is not a Language Arts specific task. A science teacher having some cool articles out ready for students to look at and discuss, some current events out in Social Studies or perhaps a math brain teaser to figure out in the early minutes all work to get students “stretched” and ready for the day.
- Utilize a visual schedule It was funny how much my students depended on a visual schedule still in 8th grade. I did not start the year with one, students came in and I told them the plan and we got to work. The days a visual plan was utilized we worked better, the students seemed more prepared, there was less confusion about tasks that would be accomplished. The visual plan served as an anchor for my students just as my work out plan anchors me once I am there.
Starting off the day with Vodka or Cheerios as an analogy made me chuckle but the thoughts that came in as I worked through a leg and back day made me reflect on where I can grow to start my day with my students. Are we giving them what they need to be successful or supplying them with bigger distractors, stressors and anxiety generators?
Something I plan to reflect on more for sure.