This post originally appeared on the blog Third Grade Doodles.

How do you spend your minutes each day? As teachers, our time seems so very limited. There is never enough time to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Each teacher, each day, makes choices about what stays on the plate and what goes. That’s just life as a classroom teacher. That being said, I have found FIVE THINGS that should be a PRIORITY every single day… 

This is so simple but so HUGE! The very best way to help your students to start their day off right is to give them a SMILE, make EYE CONTACT, and greet them BY NAME. Some teachers like to add a little sparkle to this routine by asking a question, or giving a compliment! I just read about this teacher from North Carolina who has a special handshake that he uses to greet his students each morning! Check it out HERE. When you physically SHOW UP for students each morning… they know that you care and this instantly relaxes them, and allows them to start their day in the frontal cortex of their brain… that special place where the most amazing learning can happen! 

After our morning meeting, I like to give students the low-down on “what’s up” today. I go through our agenda by talking about the day’s learning targets, and always try to throw in a tidbit that will get them excited about what’s to come… “And IN SCIENCE… we will learn about a VERY SPECIAL property of the mineral CALCITE!!!!” OMG… their eyes get so big and their mouths open wide. All of a sudden they are looking forward to the learning ahead, instead of thinking about lunch and recess. Brain research supports this too.. .brains tend to remember the FIRST part and the LAST part of things. This overview is one of the BOOK ENDS that will help them to retain what they learn during the day {see the other BOOK END toward the end of this post… REFLECTION}. Finally, doing this at the front end of the day will help your students to organize their thinking and plan ahead and set goals for new learning throughout the day. 

 
I cannot say enough about the importance of STORY TIME in our classrooms. I don’t care what grade you teach… it is ALWAYS worth the time. The benefits of reading aloud include {but are not limited to) modeling fluency, exposure to challenging texts, great book discussion, creates excitement around books and reading, models the craft of great writing, etc., etc., etc.!! My favorite thing about reading aloud to my class is how it helps to build a sense of classroom community. When you read a GREAT STORY to your class, you are all IN IT TOGETHER… sharing the ups, the downs, and the bumpy and emotional journey of the characters.  There is nothing better than the collective sigh of agony that you hear when you close that book for the day… because they want you to keep reading! Or when I hear them whispering to one another their predictions for what they think is going to happen next (Did they just practice a reading strategy without me asking and without a worksheet??). There really is nothing like it!! It is my favorite part of every day that I teach.
 
Some call it SNACK TIME. Some call it inside RECESS. Some call it FREE TIME. Some call it a BRAIN BREAK. Whatever you call it… your students need it.. .that is, some time to just be with their classmates, shooting the breeze, not thinking really hard and just being FREE. In my class, I try to give my students down time once or twice per day for about 10 minutes. Sometimes we do a fun activity together to get everyone laughing.  Sometimes I just let them get out a snack and chat with their friends. Other times, they can play a game or draw. This down time allows my kiddos to exhale and get ready for another bout of thinking and learning… kind of like hitting the reset button. 
 

The best time for students to reflect on their learning is… AT THE END OF THE DAY! There are so many ways to help students to process their daily learning, from the simple to the complex. Some teachers like to have students do a written reflection in a daily reflection journal. They might even have students include a goal {or a wish} for the next day. I keep it very simple. I gather my friends on the carpet and have them close their eyes {my comedians in the class like to strike a meditation pose}. I then go through all of the important learning concepts from the day…”Today we learned that the mineral calcite reacts with cold acid, which was so helpful in helping us to identify calcite in our rock samples… We also learned that writers find a way to “hook” their readers at the beginning of of their stories… to make us want to keep reading.” You get the idea. It usually takes about five minutes or less, but my students love this and I believe that it helps them to process and retain their learning. Sometimes, if there is time, I will then have them turn and talk about their favorite part of the day and what they would like to accomplish as a reader/writer/scientist/mathematician tomorrow.

Well… there your have it… my FIVE MUST-DOS for each day of the week. What are yours??

Thanks again for visiting and I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed writing it for you!!

Oh… If you are looking for some great “read aloud” ideas, check out my TpT store:

Because of Winn Dixie Literature Resource Kit
 
As teachers, there's never enough time to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Here are 5 things that should be a classroom priority every day.
 
As teachers, there's never enough time to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Here are 5 things that should be a classroom priority every day.
 
As teachers, there's never enough time to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Here are 5 things that should be a classroom priority every day.

As teachers, there's never enough time to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Here are 5 things that should be a classroom priority every day.

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As teachers, there's never enough time to accomplish everything that needs to get done. Here are 5 things that should be a classroom priority every day.Kathy O is the mastermind behind the TpT store and blog Third Grade Doodles! She has been at this teaching gig for over 25 years and has enjoyed the journey so far! She loves how there is always something new to learn and another challenge to overcome. Teaching gives her a constant outlet for her creativity and her drive to solve problems. Kathy believes teachers are the most supportive and inspiring people on the planet! That is why she LOVES to share her knowledge and resources with teachers all over the globe!  You can follow Third Grade Doodles on Teachers Pay Teachers, Instagram, and Facebook!