A big thank you to Jen for writing about her morning meeting this week. Jen is my neighbor at school so we chat at the end of the day while she writes her morning message. I love the way her morning meeting runs and I thought it would definitely be something worth sharing with all of you in blog land!
Tell us about what is working in your classroom?
Morning Meeting is a central part of my classroom. We begin every day with Morning Meeting. It is based on the work of the Responsive Classroom. Responsive Classroom was developed by the Northeast Foundation for Children. I certainly did not develop this process but can’t say enough about how effective it is. The meeting is a way to bring students together each morning and set the stage for them to be ready to learn. It is a central routine that students become so familiar with they could run it themselves. The meeting is essential to building community and becomes the stage where daily expectations are communicated and students practice taking turns, listening, responding and a myriad of other essential academic and social skills. The meeting has four components: greeting, game, news and announcements and share.
In the greeting students greet each other by name. There are many greetings that students learn. Examples are the handshake greeting in which students take turns going around the circle shaking hands and saying “Good morning____”, or the ball toss greeting in which children toss a soft ball to each other saying “ Good morning___.” There are many different greetings and we vary them each day. At the outset we practice a greeting for several days. We model aspects such as shaking hands, saying the person’s name, and how to ask if you don’t remember a name. The latter is only necessary in the first weeks of school. Everyone gets to know each other’s names very quickly. Through this process every child is greeted by name every day.
The second component is game. The game is cooperative and not competitive. It is meant to again build community. The games we play include detective, where a student leaves the room and then comes in and figures out the mystery person by asking yes or no questions. Another game is Earth, Air, Fire. A student goes into the center of the circle and tosses a ball, we use an inflatable globe. The student says earth, air, water or fire. For earth the student that gets the ball says an animal that lives on the earth, for water the student needs to say an animal that lives in water, air is an animal that flies, for fire the student has ten seconds to make the other student laugh. Just as with the greeting the games are many and we vary them after students have learned them. Any game works as long as it is relatively short and not overly competitive.
The third component is news and announcements. I do mine on a white board. I write a message each morning. It starts with something like “Good morning super students!” or “Good morning awesome authors!” The date and what we are having that day follows. The next part is usually questions related to something we are learning. The end is something like, “Have a fantastic day!” I make my message interactive so as students are coming in and doing morning work they are filling in the board. I might also use this space for reminders of rules or to reinforce expectations.
Finally we have a share. Students sign up to share each day. At the beginning of the year we decide as a group how many sharers we will have a day and how many questions or comments there will be. This year my class decided to do 3 shares a day with 5 questions or comments each. Share is not show and tell. Students are not allowed to bring in toys to share. I encourage them to tell about whatever it is they want to share. They should be relatively brief. Questions or comments need to be about the share not a story about the student commenting. All of this is taught and modeled at the outset.
Why do you think this practice is working?
This practice works because students become a community of learners. Quickly they come to know each other and the expectations of the classroom. During Morning Meeting we learn about each other as learners and as people. The routines of Morning Meeting set the students up to succeed. They know what to expect, they know how to behave and how to be a contributing member of the group. In our classroom students know and care about each other and Morning Meeting is an important part of that. The meeting connects us to each other, prepares students for the coming day, defines rules and expectations for learning activities and starts the day in a calm, productive, purposeful way.
How did you set this practice up in your classroom?
We begin Morning Meeting on day one. At the outset there is much time devoted to developing the routines that will be in place throughout the year. As I mentioned earlier we spend time each day modeling things like a handshake or making your voice audible or smiling when you say good morning. It takes several weeks to get all of the components down but it is time well spent. I begin with only two components. They are greeting and news and announcements. We practice daily and make sure we have it before adding something new. Slowly as students become more proficient we add in game and lastly sharing. The students thrive on the consistency of Morning Meeting and also on this chance to be in a group where their voice is heard and is important to the community. The time spent in the beginning to establish this practice is worth it and what you and your students gain is invaluable.
Can you suggest any resources (links/books/articles) that would help someone else set this practice up?
The Responsive Classroom and Northeast Foundation for Children have many resources that are completely devoted to Morning Meeting as well as others that detail the entire approach.