Daily Friends: A Student Management Strategy
This idea is a simple one, but everytime I share it on Instagram I get so much love and feedback that I decided it deserved it’s own spot to live on my blog!
I touched on this quickly in my 10 Tips for Departmentalized Classrooms blog post back in 2019.
*I teach in a departmentalized classroom, so my chart has a column for all 3 homerooms.
What is daily friends? (short answer)
I divide my students up by day and use that list to make sure every gets a turn with an activity, task, or privilege.
Now let’s dig in with a bit more detail…
How did this idea start?
About 8 years ago, I was dabbling in flexible seating, I loved the idea but had no money to put behind it so I just had a few random pieces I’d thrifted. It was also a time before we were a one-to-one device school and I only had 5 computers for my 22 students.
Every morning, my students would rush in, eager to get a flexible seat or a turn on the computer for morning work. Almost immediately we came up with the rule that you couldn’t have both on the same day, then we came up with the rule that you could only have each 2x a week. At the the time, my students didn’t have assigned seats, so everything was tricky and obnoxious to track.
Eventually, enough was enough. I hate inefficiency so I knew I needed a plan.
Around the same time, our Kindergarten buddy class needed help taking students to the library in the morning. So I created a schedule by dividing my roster into fifths and told the kindergarten teacher I would send 4-5 kids a day (on the same day each week) to pick up their buddy for the library.
It took me almost no time to realize I needed to use the weekly schedule to solve my flexible seating and computer problem. I thought of the “day” groups as just a way to split up students, students didn’t get every privledge on their day of the week. For example, Monday friends may get library on Monday, computers on Tuesday, and flexible seating on Wednesday.
I was honestly shocked how much chaos this simple schedule eliminated.
How I Run Daily Friends Now-a-Days
Now, my Daily Friends poster is one of the first things I make when I get my roster. I hang it on our front board which is basically the command central of our classroom.
Kids are always curious about the chart and begin asking what happens on “their day” during the first week of school.
Typically, the first time I use the schedule for the year is to administer reading assessments. We have to read and assess each student one-on-one to find their reading level. It is a long process that can take weeks. I use Daily Friends to help me organize, track, and manage assessments. My goal is either to do the 4-5 students for the day and be done in a week or do 2-3 students from the day and be done in two weeks.
Other ways I use daily friends in my classroom include:
Reading Conferences: I meet with students one-on-one during independent reading time throughout the year for reading conferences. The Daily Friends chart helps me to make sure every student gets a conference about every 2 weeks. You can hear more about this in my free Reading Roll Out webinar.
Library Schedule: I’m still using this strategy for my library schedule. I teach my students how to select books for their book box to last a week so that they don’t have to “shop” for books daily. When it’s their day, they get to go to the school library and two days later they get to shop in my classroom library. For example, Tuesday friends get to go to the school library on Tuesday and the class library on Thursday.
Line Leaders: Third graders still care about being first in line, so I always start my line with the friends from that day. I also use this to split my class into smaller sections for any reason, like calling students down to the carpet, having students grab their supplies, or for staggered transitions.
Breakfast Club: My students eat breakfast in the classroom so I started a morning club where students can hang out with me at the back table once a month. The eat breakfast, play with fidgets, color, and just chat with me about whatever they want. You can read more about it here.
Making Groups: If I need to make groups quickly, I’ll tell kids to get together with their daily friend group or to make groups that has one person from each day.
So, there you have it!
Just grab your roster, chunk it into 5 sections, and you’ve got yourself a more manageable way to track your class of students!
Let me know what you think here or over on Instagram @Adrienne_Teaches.
Talk to you soon,