If your idea of a morning meeting is a bunch of preschoolers singing a song about the days of the week, you aren’t alone. That’s what I thought too. Little did I know how much a morning meeting was about to change the climate and culture of my classroom.
In my upper elementary classroom students would come in after being greeted at the door. They immediately started their morning work. After the bell rang and announcements were over, we would start our bell ringer. The bell ringer was usually a review similar to the morning work, so I started thinking how I could use this time better. I had seen morning meetings at the district I student taught in, but I wasn’t sure of how to work it into my routine because I was departmentalized. After reading The Morning Meeting Book by Roxann Kriete and Carol Davis. I decided to take some of their ideas and put my own spin on it.
What is a morning meeting?
The morning meeting came out of the Responsive Classroom approach to teaching. A morning meeting is an intentional time set aside for a whole class gathering– building relationships, creating a safe environment for learning, and setting the tone for the day. ResponsiveClassroom.org describes it as “one way social-emotional learning can be woven into the fabric of our schools.” Ideally, it is done in the morning, but it doesn’t have to be. During a morning meeting, students should be at the forefront while teachers act as a guide. This gives the students a voice in the classroom. It is time for students to share ideas, talk, question and learn to communicate with each other.
The components of a morning meeting
- Greeting- Students greet each other by saying their classmate’s name, usually paired with an action like a high-five or handshake
- Sharing- Students share something about themselves. Classmates practice actively listening
- Group Activity-This could be singing, dancing, or a group game.
- Morning Message-Students read a message from the teacher about what they will be doing that day.
What it looked like in my classroom
After the bell rang I instructed each student to greet two people by name by saying “Good morning, (insert name)” while performing a greeting such as a high five, hand shake, fist bump, etc. Students then sat in a circle on the rug. It was important to sit in a circle so that all students could be seen and promote equity. I reminded them of our prompt. The prompt didn’t change until everyone had a chance to answer the question. Some examples were “What was the best gift you ever received?” or “Where in the world would you like to go and why?” I chose two students to share using equity sticks. When each student was finished sharing, the student could choose two of their peers to take questions or comments from. This led to some great discussions and lots of laughs. Then, depending on the day and the needs of the class, I would have a short SEL lesson, read a poem, picture book, or riddle. I would go over the day’s objectives and any changes to our normal routine before releasing them back to their desks. The total time this took was about 15 minutes.
What are the benefits of a morning meeting?
I saw many academic, social, and emotional benefits of a daily morning meeting. Students formed friendships with peers they most likely wouldn’t have otherwise. Disagreeing during accountable talk time didn’t end with arguments or “I told you so!” Students worked well in groups by encouraging each other, taking turns, and asking clarifying questions, and communicating effectively. This resulted in higher academic achievement because they were willing to listen to opposing viewpoints, synthesize the information, and respond. They were also more likely to listen when their classmates offered help because the safe culture of the classroom had already been established. Students were more likely to take risks or ask for help because they knew they weren’t going to be teased for it. Students had been practicing active listening with their classmates during morning meetings, so they knew how to listen to me when I was teaching.
How can I incorporate Kiddom into my morning meeting?
Kiddom can be a place for students to share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings when it’s not possible to have an in-person meeting. Simply post a prompt on the classroom announcement page. Students can add a comment to respond. You can also chat with the class by clicking the speech bubble at the bottom of the classroom page. In this format, students can respond to each other’s comments unless it is locked by the teacher. If you are able to have an in-person morning meeting, you can post the prompt ahead of time to allow students time to reflect on the answer before speaking.
Every time I picked my students up from PE class, the PE teacher would comment about how well my class worked together. She genuinely looked forward to having my class. My class excelled at games that other classes struggled with. I wondered why this was happening. What was so different about my class? My conclusion–morning meeting.
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