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Morning Meeting

Morning Meeting

Morning meeting is one of my nonnegotiable times of the day. It is also one of my favorite times of the day! I don’t know of any other block of time in our schedule that accomplishes so much:

  • All 6 of the language arts (reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing, and visually representing)? Check.
  • Social/Emotional Learning (SEL)? Check.
  • Routines, rules and procedures? Check.
  • Community building? Check.

What is a morning meeting?

If you ask me, that is a pretty powerful 20-30 minutes! There are many ways to run your morning meeting. If you are just starting out, I highly recommend The Morning Meeting Book by Roxann Kriete and Carol Davis. That was the book that started it all for me. There are so many great, helpful tips in this book. There are also dozens and dozens of other bloggers extolling its praises. Everyone does things just a little bit differently, so I am going to share what has worked best for me.

My morning meeting consisted of Greeting, Share, Activity, Schedule, Rules and then I wrapped it up by picking our “lucky duck.” Other people also do News and Announcements, where the teacher handwrites or projects a message about the day’s events; Reflection, where students reflect on their learning; Poems; Singing/saying a class song or motto; Exercise or movement (GoNoodle is great for this); Reviewing behavior expectations and/or learning targets for the day; or Mindfulness/Yoga. The possibilities are endless! You have to decide what will give you the most bang for your buck and meet the needs of your students. For me, the routine listed above did just that.

Teach the kids first

Before I ever began morning meeting, I taught the procedure we would follow. This step is crucial no matter what you are trying to implement. Kids need to know what is expected of them to be successful. So we take each component on its own at the beginning of the year and teach the routine and procedure specifically. For example, I started by teaching the way we would begin the meeting each day. I called the students one table at a time to hang their things up and go to the carpet.

Then I showed them how to sit (we sat in a circle around the perimeter of our carpet—and I sure enough did use those words, so now we can add math to the list of standards met during this time!). I explained that although we normally sit in our assigned squares, for this time of day, they would get to choose where they sat as long as it was a good choice (and we discussed what “a good choice” meant in this instance as well). We also went over how to sit on the carpet and do whole body listening. I used the “Criss-Cross Applesauce” song by Harry Kindergarten to review exactly how they should sit.

We talked about the fact that morning meeting is a time when we could feel free to share our ideas without fear that anyone will laugh or think they are silly. I let students know that participation was voluntary (but it isn’t long before they are all participating in some way!) We discussed how they would respond (each section is different) and that it is important to always treat each other with kindness and respect. Then I began teaching the components of morning meeting we would use.

Step 1: Greeting

The first part for me is the greeting. This is when students greet one or more students depending on which greeting you choose. To begin with, I simply have one student turn to the one next to them and say “Good morning, __________.” Eventually we add a wave, a high five or some other gesture, but we build slowly. It is important for kids to feel comfortable with one step before moving on to another. There are lots of greeting ideas in The Morning Meeting Book, and I am working on a comprehensive product for my ‘teachers pay teachers’ store that will have many of them listed.

Step 2: Sharing

Next, is sharing time. This can also be done in many different ways. I typed all of my student’s names in a two column chart and just used a clothespin on the first and last student to share. We picked about 4-6 per day so that everyone had the chance to share once during the week. I let them share anything that they wanted to. Very rarely did I have to cut a student’s time off, but I did have the occasional chatty Cathy that would talk all morning if I let them! This was a great way to get to know the children as individuals. Another option would be to pick a discussion topic and let everyone contribute their idea on that topic.

Step 3: Activity

Next was an activity. For my class, I loved using the Chit Chat Messages from Deanna Jump. These were a perfect ELA review for my kiddos, and I had enough to last almost the entire year. She has several versions available in her TpT store. Sometimes, I would do sight word review or listen to an alphabet song (Jack Hartmann has lots of great options on his YouTube Channel!).

Step 4: Schedule for the day

Finally, we would go over the schedule for the day. When I first came to my school, we studied the work of Ruby Paine in high poverty schools (mine is about 80% low socioeconomic status) and one of the things that was stressed was the need for a visual schedule. Many times children of poverty live in homes with much randomness to their day, so providing them with the step-by-step plan of how our school day will unfold helps them understand planning and routine and allows them to feel in control of what will be coming next. I had a pocket chart with all of our daily activities with picture cues listed, and trust me, they noticed right away if something new popped up on our board!

Step 4: Review the rules

To wrap up our meeting, we would go over the rules. I used Whole Brain Teaching rules, which have gestures to accompany them. We would stand and say the rules and then I would pick our class helper (we called them the lucky duck because everyone wanted to be chosen!) and begin the rest of our day.

Morning meeting looks different in every classroom, but I think if you try it, you will find it becomes one of your favorites too!

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Relationship Building 101

Relationship Building 101

Organization & Behavior

By now, most teachers have been in school for a while.  I did a Facebook live recently about problems/issues that tend to crop up at this time of the year.  You can watch that here. The two main issues that seem to be the most pressing for September (assuming an August start date for school) are organization and behavior. While I would never say I solved both issues with 100% success, I do think I have at least a few good insights for each one.  In my opinion, getting behavior under control is the most pressing of the two, so it is the one I decided to focus on first.

Two by Ten Strategy

One of my favorite behavior strategies is the two by ten (2 x 10 for short) strategy.  One of the reasons that I like it so much is that it is not some quick fix for “xyz” behavior problem (i.e. talking out, unkind to others, etc.) Rather, I see this as more of a preemptive move to help derail problems before they start.  The reason behind my feelings about this is because not only because it doesn’t address one specific behavior issue, but also because it is just good practice for all teachers.  I did a Facebook live on this strategy as well, but we were having some major technology issues that day, so I wanted to go into more detail here.

“No significant learning takes place without a significant relationship.”

~ James Comer

One of the basic tennets of this strategy is based on a famous quote from James Comer that you’ll hear me say often—“No significant learning takes place without a significant relationship.” I believe this statement wholeheartedly.  Kids just won’t learn from people they don’t like.  Oh, they might get something here and there, but for true learning to take place kids must feel respected, at ease in their environment and engaged in the work we ask them to do.  This strategy helps with relationship building, which is a key factor for creating an environment kids can thrive in.

Do it 2 minutes a day for 10 days

The strategy is called 2 x 10 because you do it for 2 minutes per day for 10 consecutive days. You can pick one child, multiple children or your whole class.  Here is basically how it works: For two minutes a day, you have a conversation with the child about anything non-school related you can.  You could talk about their hobbies, their interests, their family, or what they watched on TV last night—anything that helps you get to know them as a person, most importantly who they are outside of school.  You repeat this activity for 10 consecutive days. At that time, you can decide to move on to a different student (or group of students) or stay with the same child. I think this decision will be based on the results that you get in that first round.

For some kids, it is going to take several rounds of practicing this strategy before they feel comfortable taking risks (which is essential to learning) in the classroom.  Other kids will warm up quickly and be right at home in your classroom.  Only your professional judgment can determine how much to interact with a child.  The 2 x 10 strategy is not a magic formula, but rather a guideline to help you as you get to know your students.  Some kids will need significantly more interaction, and some will want less.  You will be amazed at how well you can get to know your students in just this short time.  There are plenty of opportunities in the day to squeeze in two minutes: arrival, dismissal, waiting in line, restroom breaks, going into lunch, during center time; really this list is endless and up to each individual teacher.

If you try this strategy, I’d love to hear from you! Leave a comment below to let us know how it went.

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