Simple question. What do other teachers do in the morning?

Over a decade ago, when I taught fifth grade in Silver Spring, MD, I recall getting to school between 7:30 and 8:00 before my students walked in at around 9:10. For the first year at that school, I taught in a “learning cottage” out back. Conceivably, I could go the whole morning without entering the building and seeing another adult. I can’t recall any regular meetings or other activities taking place. I had the time to myself to prepare and do what I needed to do.

When I started supervising student teachers for about eight years, on the days I arrived before students, I recall teachers being in their classrooms entire mornings. There were no meetings.

In DC, we have these things call “morning collaboratives.” They are technically scheduled between 8:10 and 8:40 each morning. Language in the teachers’ contract is fairly specific on how those times are to be used. Yet a frequent bone of contention between teachers and administrators is the use of this time. Most teachers are hard at work preparing for their day. For me, I create and arrange all of my materials for centers; my para-professional is doing the same. We are always shuffling up until the very last minute before students walk in the door. When that time is taken from us, we can feel it throughout the rest of the day.

Lately, I find that these morning times are being seized from us for additional faculty meetings, “book studies,” committee meetings, and learning communities (or whatever). When morning times are all used up, planning periods are next. The vast majority of teachers cannot collaborate after school because of additional programs.

This sounds like micro-management in the extreme, as if we can’t handle our own schedules. So, fellow teachers, how do you use your mornings? Are they still yours?