As a teacher, I truly believe that building relationships is the key to creating a community of learners. Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like. Kids don’t learn from people they don’t trust. (Click here for a personal tale.) They learn from someone who cares about them. They learn from someone who takes time to learn about them. Something I know to be true about kids is that they know when people are being genuine and when people are being fake. One way I take time to learn about my students is to take time for morning meeting every day. Morning meeting is also I time where I share things from my life that helps build relationships with my students. It has become one of my favorite times of the day.
Building Relationships- Morning Meeting
Wouldn’t life be so much greater if you, as a teacher, started school in a morning meeting? Actually, while typing that it made me realize that a school I student taught at did this. Each morning the teachers would gather outside of the office and great each other in a circle through some sort of activity. They would then share celebrations and successes that they saw each other doing and then we would head off to teach for the day. It was actually really nice… hmm, maybe if we began our days in morning meeting life would be a lot nicer and there would be more fountains and fewer drains (see post here). What I am trying to say that creating a classroom community is intentional.
Each and every morning we gather for a morning meeting. Kids know that when the bell chimes they put away their morning work and head to the carpet. Morning meeting has four parts shown above. We have a greeting, share, activity, and message. Once we finish morning meeting we are ready to begin our day.
We start with a greeting. The greeting is to allow students time to connect with each other and allow my assistant teacher and me time to connect with each student. On Mondays, our greeting is always the same. We share our smiles and we share our frowns from the weekend. Each child has an opportunity to share and every voice is heard on Monday morning. The rest of the week we choose a greeting from a list we have compiled. Every once in a while we learn a new greeting and add it to our list. The current class favorite is Hello Neighbor!
Next, we have share. Now I have done many different things for share in the past. At the moment I am using School Tools TV as my share. Each day Rusty creates a 1-2 minute video reminding kids of various behavior topics. We learn about everything from feelings to bullies and friendships. At the end of each video, Rusty asks a question to the class. After the video is done we circle up and have a classroom conversation about the question. This year we are watching the video twice. With firstie EAL (English as an Additional Language) students they need to hear it twice because Rusty does speak quite quickly.
Due to time in our schedule this year I have had to cut the activity! It makes me so sad because such fun and happy memories are made during the activity. If you have time to complete the activity at your school I highly encourage you to complete it. Taking time to play a small game and engage kids right off the bat is extremely beneficial for a successful day.
I don’t have a message written when kids walk through the door as some teachers do. I use the message time in morning meeting to model some habits of a writer. While students are gathered in front of me I model things writers do that I notice the class struggling with but that I believe are in their zones of proximal development. This can be anything from letter formation to spaces in between words to using the word wall. This is extremely valuable time to engage my young writers by thinking aloud and showing them what proficient writers do each time they write.
One year I replace activity with poetry. Each day we would read a new poem and discuss or continue reading a poem across the whole week. These poems were sometimes tied to instructional goals but the majority of the time they were just for fun. Students then would glue these poems into a poetry journal that they absolutely loved to read. By the time we made it to our poetry writing unit the poems they wrote were some of the most beautiful poems I have ever had kids write. It was amazing.
Morning meeting has made such a difference in my relationships with students. It puts us all on the same playing field at the start of the day. Greeting allows me to look into every student’s eyes and welcome them to school that day. Creating a community of learners and building relationships with each child in your class isn’t easy but it is necessary to cultivate passionate little learners.
Do you use morning meeting within your classroom? Do you follow the standard morning meeting or do you switch it up a bit? Let me know! I love hearing how different teachers use morning meeting.