Doubting Myself: Morning Work

I had a conversation the other day with someone about the use of  “morning work.” After hearing them share about using it and how much it was helping the students, I realized I was bothered.  First I thought it was because I’m not a fan of run-off morning work. But it kept bugging me.  So I kept thinking about it.  Why was it bothering me so much?  Then I realized what it was. When I hear teachers using something and how much they feel it benefits their students and I don’t use it,  it makes me doubt my belief about it.

Here are the things that were running through my head without realizing it:

  • What if it is really good for my students and I am keeping them from it?
  • I know it doesn’t meet the needs of all my students but would it really hurt them?
  • I like my students to come in and start reading or writing something that interests them but could that 2 sided worksheet be beneficial to them since it reviews skills every day?

So I called a colleague and friend who also happens to be a former parent. I had her son a couple of years ago and I just wanted to talk it out with her.  She in turn asked me some questions which helped me a lot.

  • Was there anything on that sheet that you don’t cover another way?
  • What type of environment do you want your kids to walk into each morning?
  • Are there questions/problems on the sheet that you could use but in another way that matches your philosophy of education?
  • What do you think most teachers use that sheet for?
  • And then a statement or two: Your students are happy and excited to learn when they are with you and successful after they leave you. Your parents and students are happy with what you do. Don’t doubt what you do and believe.

These reaffirmed what I believe:

  • I want my students to come in every day knowing they will learn but have fun doing it.
  • I am HUGE advocate for choice in learning. We have standards to teach but there are many ways to get there and kids should have options to show their learning.
  • I build review in naturally throughout the day/week/year where it makes sense and is needed.
  • Morning work aims for the average kid. The high kids don’t need it, the low kids can’t do it without some help and the average kids can do it with very little attention from the teacher. So why would I need to use it?
  • I don’t like morning work because it is very fragmented. It picks random skills even if it is organized and the skills are set in isolation and not in a natural context for the skill. I doubt kids will be remember it let alone apply it to a new situation.
  • I have to think there are better ways to spend our time in the morning. I like to help kids with individual projects or needs in the morning. We start out excited, happy and relaxed.

If you use morning work, I don’t think it’s evil. It just doesn’t fit me or my classroom.  I used to use it a lot.  I quit because I could tell you who was going to make 100, who would miss a few and who would need me to help them redo it the next day before I ever gave it. The “review” wasn’t helping many of my kids.  It  may have given me a few minutes to get attendance done but if they are engaged in their own books/project, I get the few minutes I need to complete that task. Everyone has to make so many decisions about their teaching and their classroom. Just make it based on what you believe. 🙂

 

It’s just funny how hearing one person’s success can make you doubt your core beliefs.  I didn’t think it would be so easy to make me doubt myself.

2 thoughts on “Doubting Myself: Morning Work

  1. I agree with you Carol! And I also like how you thought about your practice and came to your conclusion. That process is a sign of a great teacher who wants the best for their kids. Good for you!

    For me, my son said it best, “I go to school to learn, not to fill out paperwork” Love that kid!

    • Sometimes the loudest voice or the voice of the majority is not the best voice. I am glad the conversation made me reflect about why I do not do morning work. I didn’t like how quickly it made me doubt myself. However, if I had not felt that uneasy feeling, I would not have gone through this process. So I am grateful in the end. Your son is right! He did not go to school to fill out paperwork. When do we do that as adults? As adults, we read, watch videos, go online, ask an expert, or just try it out to learn. That’s how it should be for kids. :)Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

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