How To Introduce Exciting and Successful Morning Meetings

How To Introduce Exciting and Successful Morning Meetings by A Word On Third

According to Responsive Classroom, "Morning Meeting is an engaging way to start each day, build a strong sense of community, and set children up for success socially and academically." Once the classroom is up and running, they should last around 20-30 minutes. Today I'm going to talk about how to launch Morning Meetings so they are effective in building your community. You really can't just jump into Morning Meeting as it is and expect it to be successful!

As I've discussed in several previous posts, Morning Meetings have four main components, which are in a specific order and have a specific purpose:

1. Greeting - meant to make each child feel welcome and give them a sense of belonging
2. Share - meant to make each child feel significant
3. Activity - meant to give each child a sense of fun
4. Morning Message (previously called News & Announcements) - meant to prepare students for the day's events and transition them into the rest of the school day

So, in many classrooms, on day 1, teachers will start with all 4 components. I find that starting slow with this makes for a better run Morning Meeting throughout the school year. Here are my tips for introducing Morning Meetings.

Teach rules for Morning Meetings.
On the first day of school, you will not have generated rules with your class yet, so I have a small anchor chart with the rules I expect them to follow. I discuss what each rule means and I teach the kids how to come to the meeting area. The rules usually are:

  • Come to meeting with empty hands.
  • Listen to the speaker.
  • Raise your hand when you want to talk.
  • Sit respectfully.
Eventually, our class rules will cover this, but for now, it keeps order during meeting time.

Introduce the 4 components slowly based on your students' needs.
In the first days of school, you will want to start with a greeting first and then read through your Morning Message. Starting on day 1, I have my Morning Message out so kids can read it as they enter the room for the day. However, you'll want to start teaching your procedures for greetings with interactive modeling. Even though you don't have all 4 components of a typical Morning Meeting in your first Morning Meetings, expect it to take as long. You are teaching expectations for this structure.

Once students have a grasp on how to greet effectively, only then should you start teaching activities. Again, use interactive modeling for this. Finally, once they can move through activities successfully and pretty quickly, then you can teach into sharing. Sharing is the hardest--kids need to know how to communicate clearly and ask and answer questions. Do not introduce new components until the previous ones are solid. It's OK if this takes a few weeks. Remember, each class is different!

Start with low-risk activities.
Kids are nervous on the first days of school, and Morning Meeting can require a lot of emotional risks. If we want to build a warm, respectful community, we need to... well... be respectful!! Be patient with kids. Don't make them shake hands at first. Let them learn names and say hello with eye contact. As the first weeks move on, you can choose some higher risk activities and gradually challenge kids to get to know each other at a safe pace.

For example, you might choose to start your sharing component out by having kids share a short answer to a question, like "What is your favorite school subject?" The answer is short (a word or two) as opposed to something that makes them feel more vulnerable. Later on, kids can share about something more open-ended (like "What did you do this weekend?") and then you can have kids share about anything they want to share about when they are ready.

Eventually, your classroom will have a Morning Meeting that is up and running nicely. If you are patient with your students, you will have a meeting that really focuses on building core principals like cooperation, empathy, responsibility, assertion, and self-control.

What do you like to do in your Morning Meetings in the first six weeks of school?  Comment below!

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