In August of 2020 I was interviewed by Edutopia to share my ideas about the importance of community building through delivering regular morning messages. Below is the pitch I had sent them. Originally, I proposed this would be an article for their site but the producer proposed to do a short video instead (see below).
Morning messages in elementary classrooms are crucial. Their regularity and consistency help reinforce routines and set expectations for the day. Morning messages facilitate wayfinding. They play a major role in building a strong community. Mine evolved greatly last year – from clumsy, 5 minute long attempts to communicate everything — mostly through writing — to short, funny, personal and visual messages kids looked forward to. Here is my recipe for recording a perfect morning message.
Morning messages should not be longer than 2-3 minutes. Pick 1-2 things you want your students to remember and really emphasize those. If you need to teach a specific skill, it is better to make many short videos than one longer one.
Use the same screencasting tool and keep the basic format the same. Start with the same greeting. Share the same things every day – the schedule, important announcements, upcoming holidays and birthdays. Occasionally, add one other element (see Personal and Fun).
The less writing the better – say it with images rather than words. Be present on the screen 90% of the time.
Occasionally teach a social skill, model growth mindset or empathy and/or share a personal story.
Make a morning message something all kids look forward to. Ask a question of the day. Share photos of something in your house. Be silly.