In order to complete tasks independently and successfully, kids need explicit, straightforward, simple directions that they can easily follow by themselves. Because of this, I created a "stop and drop it" station for the kids. As soon as the kids walk into our room, this is what they see:
It houses all of the tasks that students need to complete away from their desks.
On Monday morning, students place their returning Friday Folders into the magazine holder.
On Tuesday through Friday mornings, students turn in their homework to the "Homework" basket.
Students place notes from home, money for various orders or fundraisers, etc. in the "Important Notes" basket. I also have a spare pad of paper in the basket for parents to jot down notes regarding changes in dismissal, etc., rather than telling me at the door. As I have so many parents dropping by, I so appreciate when reminders are written down, rather than relying on my memory.
At our school, students in first grade order either a hot lunch (hot meal of the day) or a cold lunch (turkey sandwich, pb&j sandwich, etc.) from the cafeteria, rather than going through the lunch line and picking and choosing their lunch items. Each child places their popsicle stick into either the "hot lunch" or "cold lunch" basket. If students bring lunch from home, they place their popsicle stick behind the baskets. This shows me that they have ordered, but will not be buying from the cafeteria.
Behind the hot and cold lunch baskets, I have the order forms that we send down to the cafeteria and the menu for each month's cafeteria meals. Each morning, I have one student count how many kids have ordered hot and cold lunches, complete our order form, and take the form down to our cafeteria manager so that she can prepare our lunches. I write the hot and cold lunch choices for our day on our front board each morning for the kids to see, so having the menu available for an easy reference really helps me.
Having this "stop and drop it" station really helps the kids organize and complete their morning jobs independently. As soon as they have gone through the entire station, students know they may proceed to their desks to begin their morning math work making our mornings as seamless and low-stress as possible.
- The kids only have to come to one area of the room in order to complete all of their morning jobs. In this one spot, everything is clearly labeled, allowing the kids to complete their jobs independently and successfully.
- By setting the kids up for success in completing their morning jobs, I am able to greet students and parents at the door in the morning, rather than spending time reminding kids to turn in their homework, make their lunch choice, etc.
- We have taken a very chaotic, open-ended morning time (kids coming and going, morning jobs to complete, etc.), and created a simplistic, easy-to-follow system for the muffins to follow without any frustration.
How do y'all manage your students' arrival to school? Are y'alls "controlled chaos" like ours?