Morning Meeting: A Key Time for Social and Academic Learning at Pittsfield Elementary
Social learning is just as important as academic learning: this is one of our fundamental beliefs here at PES. That is why we use the Responsive Classroom approach to build community, create challenging academics, and model positive discipline in our school. Holding a daily “Morning Meeting” is one way in which we implement Responsive Classroom to achieve these goals.
Morning meetings are held daily for a halfhour in every PES classroom. A complete morning meeting has four components: greeting, sharing, activity, and the morning message. They are followed in this order to best help the flow and momentum of the meeting.
Morning meeting begins with the greeting, in which each person is warmly welcomed to the class and to the new day. Skills focused on include: making eye contact, using a friendly voice, and saying the person’s name.
After the greeting comes sharing, which is an opportunity for students to learn about each other’s interests and experiences. Shares can vary from completing a sentence starter (“My favorite food is…”) to responding to focused topic shares (When I Grow Up, My Favorite Character, etc.), to an open-ended free topic share. Practicing speaking to a group, making eye contact with an audience, responding to questions and comments, and sharing for an appropriate amount of time are all skills that are practiced by the sharer. Listeners focus on building skills such as looking at the speaker, focusing on what the sharer says, and remembering key points from the share.
Group activities are meant to build community among classmates. Teachers focus on cooperative games that require teamwork, and meeting a challenge or taking a risk together builds cohesiveness for the class. When students play together, they build connections that can help at points later in the school day, both during academic and social challenges. As Crowe writes, “Research shows that if children are targeted, that targeting often stops quickly when a peer intervenes, and peers are more likely to intervene when they are close to the child being targeted.” Examples of cooperative activities are “Fact or Fiction”, “What Are You Doing?”, or a choral reading of a poem, and they allow students to get to know each other, work together and to take risks as a group.
The morning message helps students transition to our academics and focus for the day. It often includes an interactive component which asks for students to respond (Ex. What book are you reading in SSR? Write an equivalent name for 20.) The message also helps students build their literacy skills while preparing for what is to come. The message may be read aloud in groups (line by line or sentence by sentence), or it can be used as a tool for summarizing or drawing conclusions (What is the main idea of today’s message? What types of2) books are being read during SSR right now?).
“Research on bullying… shows that children are less likely to engage in bullying behaviors if they feel connected to their peers, to their teacher, and to the school as a whole” (Crowe, 2012). Morning meeting is one meaningful and effective way in which we can help students get to know each other in a safe and supportive manner. When students are united as a class, there is less need to isolate someone as an “outsider”. This is only one reason that our classrooms are working hard to promote a positive school climate fostering cooperation and support of one another.
**Excerpt from How to Bullyproof Your Classroom, written by Caltha Crowe and published by the NEFC.
By Katie Bass
Responsive Classroom Lead Teacher