How Morning Meetings Build Community in the Classroom
Our second grade class conducts a daily "Morning Meeting” to develop social skills and establish an overall classroom community. This is a time when we come together to learn, celebrate our classroom family, and cheer one another on during learning activities. For consistency, it is important that our Morning Meetings follow the same format each day. Providing a predictable routine is one of the best ways to develop a feeling of safety for students in the beginning of the year.
We begin by gathering on our rug and sitting in a circle. We choose a greeting from a collection of cards and each student greets the person next to them (or whatever the greeting requires). These greetings can be anything from saying “Good Day!” in five different languages, to saying “Good Morning” in the form of a “knock-knock” joke. To make remembering the steps to greetings easier, I compiled them into a set of greeting cards that I laminated, hole-punched, and put on a ring. I keep this handy with our easel and other meeting materials.
In the beginning of the year, we spend time doing a "regular" handshake greeting. Students learn how to look the person they are speaking to in the eye, speak clearly, and give a firm handshake. They also learn how to politely ask a person's name if they have forgotten. After students are comfortable with the "regular" greeting, we move on to other fun greetings as mentioned above. Some of our greetings can be pretty silly, and my students can hardly wait to see what they will be doing each day!
After the greeting, we participate in a quick activity. I also keep a ring of activity cards that stay with our materials for easy access. Our morning activity usually reviews a grammar or math skill we are learning. Trivia, Mad Libs, comprehension activities and task cards are other things we might do on a given day. The key is to keep the activity brief; it should take no longer than five minutes. This is a great opportunity for students to laugh with one another in a non-threatening way.
Once the activity is completed, I move from being a part of the circle to a chair so that I can facilitate our shared writing during our "Morning Meeting Message." This is an interactive writing where we write together about our day or school events. Students share writing responsibilities and they also come up and lead us in reading the message, using a pointer. (My students really have fun with this!)
During shared writing, I always incorporate the grammar skill that our reading series is focusing on for the week. We end with a read-aloud of a picture book that focuses on whichever writing trait we are studying. This leads naturally into writing, as students leave the circle to practice the skill we have just talked about during our grammar review and author's craft.
This is one of my favorite times of the day and my students love it, too. It is a great way to build community and work together as a group. Overall, use your judgment about how long your meetings should run. Generally, I have found that for lower elementary, 15 to 20 minutes works very well.
Below are some of the books that can help you establish a great Morning Meeting; I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Christina Bainbridge is a seven-year teacher who currently teaches a first and second grade split class at Central Elementary in White Pigeon, Michigan. She earned her Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) from Marygrove College in 2009 and has incorporated her master-level teaching practices into an award-winning website: Mrs. Bainbridge’s Class. Her site is a treasure-trove of tips and advice for educators and parents alike.
“I loved my MAT experience at Marygrove because I was able to work at my own pace and apply practical knowledge into my classroom on a daily basis.” Bainbridge said. “It really helped me focus in on my reading instruction, particularly in the area of explicit teaching of comprehension skills. I would recommend the MAT program at Marygrove to anyone who is ready to critically examine their teaching practices and increase their effectiveness as an educator.” Also check out Bainbridge’s blog at www.bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com.