Thursday, October 18, 2012

Morning Meeting Routine

Do you have a morning meeting? This year, I decided to commit to morning meeting. I was reluctant to add it to our schedule because we are always pressed for time but this year, I thought it would be the perfect way to start the day. School officially starts at 7:55 and we try to have our morning meeting from 8-8:10.

To lead morning meeting, I elect a "Speaker of the House." I choose this student strategically (a child who would benefit from the spotlight of leading the meeting and is someone who does not typically take on leadership roles.) Morning meeting provides an easy structure for the Speaker of the House to follow and a way to engage in appropriate conversations with their classmates.

First quarter, we used morning meeting to go over the classroom goals we are working on. At the beginning of the year, we were working on 1-walking down the hall quietly and 2-making sure that no one in the class felt like a "Big Al" (Have you read Andrew Clements book Big Al? Big Al didn't fit in with the other fish, but he wanted to. The book taught us to reach out to others to make sure everyone felt included.) I tried my best to make it seem like students had negotiated these goals all on their own. I gave the Speaker of the House sentence starters to help them lead the conversation. They say "We are working on.....How do you think we did yesterday? Anything we could do better?" We post our goals on index cards on this file cabinet:
We also use morning meeting as the time to reflect on our behavior from the day before. I started using a marble jar system with my students because negative reinforcement wasn't working and I felt like I was constantly issuing empty threats (because my students are so nice, wonderful, and well-behaved in general, it's hard to punish them--and I am not a softy!). So, I decided they might respond better to starting the day with 10 marbles and trying to hold on to them. I simply write "10 Marbles" on the board and subtract as necessary. Each morning, we add the number of marbles from the previous day to the marble jar. It's an understood rule that if they maintain less than 7 marbles, they don't earn any marbles for that day.

Now that these routines are in place (it's second quarter), we can spice it up a little. Here's my new daily routine for morning meeting.

Monday: Smile Moments: Pictures that make us smile or a funny video to start off "grumpy Monday" with some smiles and laughter (follow my pinterest board to find some Smile Moment pictures) We squeezed in quite a few "smile moments" last quarter.

Tuesday: Student Goal Setting Reflections: During report card conferences, students set a few goals. Now, they will make them a reality by reflecting on how they are doing each week. Here's my template:
My hope is that just like we go over our classroom goals ("We are working on..."), students will become comfortable enough to share what they are working on with the rest of the class. I would love for students to use this meeting time to increase accountability, to show support for one another, and to share strategies. This is the only day of morning meeting that I lead, rather than the Speaker.

Wednesday: Classroom Goals reflection: Now that we have our routines for morning meeting down, we can start reflecting on our classroom goals weekly instead of daily. If we have a day where we lose too many marbles, of course we will reflect on why. Our current classroom goals are: 1) persevering through challenges, 2) listening and following directions, and 3) making our transitions faster.

Thursday: Appreciations: Share appreciations for someone else in the classroom

Friday: Building Background Knowledge Videos: Last quarter, we were alternating "Smile Moments" and educational videos. I pull up videos from (If you haven't used this site, check it out! They have a daily wonder video with a follow-up nonfiction article. You can check out the archives and quickly find things that relate to your curriculum or that you just think your kids would find interesting.) Sometimes I see something on the news that I think would be good to share with students. For example, when the Chinese Olympic badminton team threw the game, I thought it would spark an interesting conversation about winning and sportsmanship.

I have also used Teachers Domain. They have some really great videos on Algebraic Thinking that we watched last quarter. This quarter, I also plan to use some of the School House Rock government video clips from youtube and a few youtube songs that related to what we are learning. Using this time strategically, I can squeeze in something that we might not get to during our content time.

Lastly, we use our morning meetings to resolve any conflicts that have come up. Two examples from our year that were serious conversations I needed to have with my students included: a really bad behavior report from Spanish and arguing and screaming at each other during recess.

You can download the reflection document for free by clicking on the image. I would love to hear more about your morning meetings and suggestions of how you make them work.

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