- Sponsorship -

Sharing ‘little good things’ to start the day off right

As students began their Monday morning in Darin Keller’s fifth grade Nickels Intermediate School class, they were greeted with lots of good mornings, hellos and handshakes, plus an acknowledgment of starting a new week.

“It’s hard to wake up sometimes on a Monday, isn’t it?” Keller asked.

Brooke Furlong shares good news

To get the week –and every morning– off to a good start, Keller takes a few minutes to just talk to his students. He started five-minute sessions three years ago called “Little Good Things.” Similar to good news shared in school culture-building programs like Capturing Kids Hearts and True Success, it’s a time when students can share something positive about their lives. That way he gets to know them, they get to know him and they get to know each other.

“Too often teachers get so caught up in getting the day started,” he said. “We have the big, long list of things we have to do in a day, so right away our mind goes to that. This is just to slow down and connect with your kids, to get to know them on a personal level.”

He also sees it as an exercise in mindfulness — a time to reflect as a group on life in general –, and a way to be aware if a student is struggling or not off to a good start. “Sometimes we have such tunnel-vision focus on the day that we forget they’re just kids… It’s just a quick check-in, ‘How you doin’?'”

Carson Conklin shares his good news about winning a game

After attendance and announcements, Keller tells students it’s time to share something good in their lives. Answers were especially rich following a weekend filled with events and activities.

“I scored four goals in one soccer game,” said Maddie Bakita.

“I took my 4-year-old brother to a corn maze,” said A.J. Cooper.

“Our cousins from Traverse City came over and we went to an apple orchard,” said Ella Kornstadt.

From sleeping in to getting new glasses to winning games and watching a parade, students shared things going on that made them feel happy. Then Keller shared that he had some fall fun at an orchard as well.

Soon it was time for writing, the first task in a day’s worth of academics.

“This is a fun way in the morning to connect with you guys,” Keller told his students before moving on. “It’s nice to slow down and see how things are going with you.”

- Sponsorship -
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese
Erin Albanese has worked as a journalist in the Grand Rapids area since 2000. A graduate of Central Michigan University, she has written for The Grand Rapids Press, Advance Newspapers and On-the-Town Magazine. She has been covering the many exciting facets of K-12 public education for School News Network since 2013. Read Erin's full bio or email Erin.


The changing of guard – as long-time educator and AD welcomes a new one

Godwin Heights Football Coach Brandon Kimble will take over as the district’s athletic director when Robert Hisey, dean of students and athletic director, officially retires Nov. 2...

Whole-child advocates ready to lead, collaborate

SNN gets to know these new elementary principals in this edition of Meet the Principal...

Amid uncertainty, new protocols, there’s laughter, new connections

Junior Olivia Austin reflects on the first day of a very unique school year...

District welcomes new administrators, ready to ‘lead through uncharted waters’

New administrators share their thoughts on starting their posts during a pandemic...


  1. Mr. Keller, thanks for taking 5 minutes. I’ve heard it said “common sense isn’t always common practice.” Of course we should set the stage, explore where are students are! But, it’s easily skipped and we wonder why students don’t know much about each other, let alone each other’s names. If they don’t know each other, why would they want to help each other? When we can take more risks in front of each other, we learn more together. BRAVO, keep it up!

  2. This is so important for building a classroom atmosphere of comfort and caring, a quality so vital to install a love of learning. That student who just saw Lake Michigan or climbed a dune has the opportunity to share the experience. Just five minutes may turn to ten, but it’s worth it!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Districts ponder how to keep students learning, engaged

Teachers are challenged to keep their style of instruction intact with students who are socially distanced and, often, not in the building at all...

Students return to classrooms for first time since March

'It’s a little different, and a little strange. ... but it seems like it’s going to be fine'...

Marching on

The plan is to continue regular rehearsals and to host a number of community events, to be determined...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU