Creating a Morning Routine in Your Classroom to Have a Great Day of Teaching

Last Updated on September 3, 2022 by Stephanie

Posts about morning routines are all over the internet. Here on Creating Time For Life I have one about some great habits to try in your morning routine and one about my personal morning routine as well. You are your habits! Starting your day off with a morning routine is essential for your well-being. With that said, wouldn’t it be wise to create a classroom morning routine as well?

Yes, it would. Most definitely it would be amazing!

Teaching is super unpredictable. The funny thing about that statement though, is that to be the most successful, you need to be super consistent and predictable. I am not talking about your students here though. I’m just talking about you when you walk in the door and you’re figuring out what is on the docket for today. Let’s figure out what’s going to work best.

Create a Classroom Morning Routine and Have a Great Day of Teaching; teacher at whiteboard teaching.

Reflection First

If you’ve been around the blog at all, you know I’m big on reflection. I wrote a post about checking your systems that absolutely focused on that reflection piece because that is where the money is. You will get the most bang for your buck if you sit down and take a moment to think about what is going well and not before you change what you’re doing.

With that said, think about a typical day at school and the things you need to be successful. I’ll give you my list:

  • My plans are done.
  • Materials for all my lessons are ready to go.
  • The classroom space is ready for students.
  • All classroom procedure materials are reset.
  • Piles of crap are tamed (seriously… this one is hard).
  • No looming emails.
  • I have a plan for my plan(s).

What’s on your list? What do you need to be super successful in your day?

Making it Happen – Figuring Out What Your Classroom Morning Routine Needs

Now that you’ve got your list of what is going to make your perfect day, you’ve got to figure out what is necessary to ensure all those things are in place. Using my list, you can see that some of these things go hand in hand. Really they fit into three different categories of things to add to your routine.

Plans/Lessons For The Day

If this is something that I need to be successful, then I better check them over. Good practice in the morning before the kiddos come in is to read through what you have planned for the day. What do you need? Do you already have it ready to go? As of this writing, I had just recently posted about how planning EVERYTHING a week ahead changed my teacher life. If I’m on track with that, everything is ready. Find a space in your room to lay out your day. Act like you are prepping for a sub for the day and have it all ready for you! I have shown this picture a few times on the site, but this is my and I LOVE it. lessons for classroom morning routine

Classroom Space

You may do some of this at the end of the day. Personally, my brain is usually so fried when my 5th graders leave my room that I can’t even think about the next day. I do my reset in the morning. Lunch clips may need to be moved. The question of the day needs to be changed. I have to put up the schedule, etc. A great thing to add to your list is the stuff you know needs to be reset for the kids to come in.

I also don’t know about you, but these kids put stuff everywhere… and a lot of times it’s not where it is supposed to be. Do a once over and make sure everything is where you need and want it to be. If you are finding that you are having to do the same tidying every day, maybe that is a great topic of conversation for your next class meeting.

Plan the Day

You have very little time during the day, so let’s use it wisely! I personally have a running to-do list that I glance at and update as I go for this next part. If you want to know about my to-do list system, check out my post on how to use a to-do list effectively.

I talk about my physical inbox in the planning ahead a week post because that’s where everything lands that I need to “deal with.” I’ve got an inbox that is essentially one big pile of crap… contained in a pretty bin. I empty it regularly, and that’s something I like to check on in the mornings. What can I add to the to-do list from the bin? What can I file away? I add everything to my master to-do list or if it’s going to take less than 2 minutes, I do it right then and there!

There’s also another inbox I check out in the morning, but only once. Check out my series on inbox zero to find out more about my email management. My classroom morning routine definitely involves one quick check of the email to make sure I don’t have anything especially important to do or needs my attention right now. Again, the two-minute rule applies. If I can quickly answer an email in under two minutes, I’m just going to do it then. If whatever action the email requires will take longer than that, I put it on my to-do list and file the email.

Now I’ve updated my to-do list. I’m ready to get crap done. I add any other random things to my list at this time as well, and then I get to work. Typically though, my list doesn’t need much attention because I’m constantly updating it and I do it digitally!

The One Thing

I don’t know about you, but there are days that I get to the end of the day and I feel like I did a crap ton of stuff. However, I got nothing done. There is definitely a difference between being busy and being productive. Know that difference.

This is one of the reasons I only check my email a couple of times a day. It can hijack your time like no other because you feel like you need to do something for someone right away. You don’t.

Many productivity experts suggest picking one thing the night before or in the morning that you want to get done that day. This is to combat the feeling of not getting anything done. Just one thing. You may get way more than that done. At least pick one thing that needs to get done though. It gives you something to focus on and something to come back to. Now when I say one thing though, be realistic. I’ve made that mistake. I say, “I’m going to get all my grading done from every class’s projects this last week today!” Then I end up grading a class and feeling defeated.

Make your One thing something you know needs to get done, and can realistically get done. Here were my “one thing” things straight from my planner this last week:

  • Get a couple of quilt blocks done for Angie. (not teaching-related, I know!)
  • Plan 4th and 1st grade
  • Plan 3rd grade
  • Finish planning grade levels
  • Get 3-4 to-do list items done
  • Get sub folder and plans ready for Friday.

Pick it and write it down so you can see it… then get to work. Recently, I have started to write my one thing on a post-it note. Then I stick it to my computer monitor!

My Personal Classroom Morning Routine

I’m a firm believer in putting it all out there because I think that it helps people. You have to understand that a real person is doing this. So here is my own morning routine. I even put it in my Todoist as recurring tasks so I can check it off every morning.

My personal classroom morning routine in my Todoist

My room is a revolving door as a specials teacher. I’ve got to have my crap together or it’s not going to go well during the day.

  1. Check over lessons for the day and fill in any missing pieces and set out any materials.
  2. Put up Question of the Day.
  3. Change Round Robin Number.
  4. Flip ABCDE schedule.
  5. Check supply bins/classroom clutter.
  6. Go through the table inbox and take action or add to ToDoist.
  7. Check email.
  8. Start work on “one thing.”

Total Honesty

There are days that I forget to do something or I think I looked carefully at my plans and then frantically search the halls while my class is sitting down for another adult to make me copies. We all have those moments. However, the key here is that these moments aren’t your normal. We are all human and we make mistakes and we have bad days.

If you feel like every day, you are flying by the seat of your pants, something isn’t right. Take a moment to examine what is causing this feeling. Do you feel like you’ve got too much to do? Is there a situation that you can’t stop thinking about? Are you comparing yourself to everyone on your team? 

Teaching is not a profession for the faint of heart. It takes every fiber of your being. The more you can create habits that set you up for success, the better off you will be. I’ve got a whole post about building systems for productivity because the stress comes when you have to deal with a lot of different things coming your way. There should be things in place that you can fall back on, your constants that will bring you back and re-center you.

Give yourself grace first and foremost.

Final Thoughts

Lastly, You are awesome. I may not know you personally, but I think you’re awesome and I think all of us have our own unique greatness. My absolute wish for anyone reading this post is that you find your niche in teaching and life. Figure out how to do what makes you happy and rock that crap out.

Now, What do you think your classroom morning routine should look like?

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