Have Calmer Classes in the Mornings with a Morning Work Competition

©The Tennessee Classroom, 2019

©The Tennessee Classroom, 2019

I should preface this by stating that my morning work time is fine. It’s not fantastic, but it’s fine. I didn’t know anything about my mornings needed a facelift until I talked to my husband one day about his mornings in his classroom.

My husband is an 8th Grade US History teacher, so we rarely compare teaching notes…our situations are kind of apples to oranges. But one day, he started talking about this morning work competition he does in his room, and I thought it was brilliant! So, one of my teaching resolutions for this year is to introduce this same contest and see how it works with my younger babies.

The premise: surprise your students once a week with a “morning work competition”. Table groups (or groups students, or rows, or however you arrange your seating) who meet all expectations, will be randomly chosen to win a prize. The students don’t know what day of the week you will spring the competition on them, or which group will be chosen…so the result? They meet expectations every. single. day.

When my husband does this with his 8th graders, he has expectations like: bringing all supplies to class, not being tardy for that class period, etc. Those things aren’t exactly applicable to 2nd grade…but I certainly have the things I want them to do before I get started with the day!

I listed my expectations for them on a giant anchor chart. I turned this into a product in my TPT store and included an example anchor chart, but you could easily write you own and include any expectations you have for your mornings!

Here you can see the quick little chart I threw up during our teacher work day this past week…and all of the lovely wires on the walls. 🙄

Here you can see the quick little chart I threw up during our teacher work day this past week…and all of the lovely wires on the walls. 🙄

They will be able to see the expectations every day, and then each morning I will type the assignments I want them to work on and project it. There is a slide in my powerpoint that says “Competition Day”, and plays a little chime. If I am going to do the morning work competition that day, I will drag that slide right after the morning work slide I’m planning to use. That way, near the end of the morning work block, I will move to the next slide, and the chime will signal to them that I’m about to give out a prize to someone. I think they’re going to LOVE it.

I wish y’all could hear the chime that goes with this, because it’s so cute! Oh, but also…more ugly wires.

I wish y’all could hear the chime that goes with this, because it’s so cute! Oh, but also…more ugly wires.

During morning work time, I plan to keep an eye on which tables I see who get unpacked, seated, and started on their work the quickest, calmest, and quietest. I also will be paying attention to effort on work…I’m not interested in the kids feeling like they need to race each other to finish tasks, so I plan to avoid choosing winners who race to be first. I want to teach my students that this time should be useful, and they should be engaged and doing their personal best on whatever they are working on.

I’ve simply clipped the prize cards together, put them in a bucket, and they’re in a drawer in the back of my classroom to grab on the fly!

I’ve simply clipped the prize cards together, put them in a bucket, and they’re in a drawer in the back of my classroom to grab on the fly!

For prizes, I put a bunch of things my kiddos like that are free for me on cards. I’ve printed a few of each on card stock, and I plan to use the same set all year. My kids will just turn in their cards to redeem their prizes that week, and I’ll put them back in my drawer to re-use another time! I’m pretty sure that low-prep materials are my love language. ❤️

And that’s it, y’all! What a simple thing to implement. I can’t wait to see how this works for me this semester.

What is your morning work/unpacking time like in your room? Connect with me on Instagram to let me know your thoughts!

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Stephanie Sutherland