I spent my first week learning my new school through good ol' trial and error. Isn't it amazing how many things can be different at a new school? Nobody can prepare you. You just have to hang on tight and learn the ropes.
Well, I'm living and learning that's for sure! After two weeks, I can now say I finally feel like I've gotten the hang of dismissal, recess, hallway expectations, and the cafeteria. There's been a bit of a learning curve, but I'm on my way to figuring everything out and learning new school traditions to blend them with some of my own favorite classroom traditions.
I like the tone it sets for the day. We start out each day happy, positive, and energetic. I enjoy learning more about my students. I hear about their triumphant moments, their disappointed moments, and the funny moments. Morning meeting has been an important addition to my classroom routine and now I don't think I could ever live without it.
Over the years, I have talked with many upper elementary teachers that say they would love to start each day with a morning meeting, but they simply don't have the time. I totally understand.
Time is precious in the classroom. We have so much to teach and so little time. And now with more rigorous standards, well... you know. We just don't have a moment to spare.
So, I had to find a way to hold on to my morning meeting, keep it fun, and keep it under 10 minutes.
My Morning Meetings has a simple 3 part structure:
- Announcements/Goal Tracking
GREETING: Students say hello to each other in various ways.
Greetings can take as much or as little time as you want. It all depends on which greeting you decide to do. I start the year with a standard handshake and formal greeting. My class of 22 students can greet each other with a formal greeting and handshake in about 2 minutes. I stick to this greeting for the first two weeks of school to help students learn each other's names.
Another favorite greeting is “What’s the news?” I like to use this one on Mondays especially. Student one says, “Good morning ______. What’s the news?” Student two responds with “Good morning ______” and then continues with news or says “No news today.”
A speed greeting works great if you are especially short on time. I have students walk around and greet as many people as possible in 30 seconds or I tell them to greet 5 different people on their way down to morning meeting.
You can also greet each other in different languages or incorporate a class handshake.
ANNOUNCEMENTS: Briefly discuss any and all housekeeping issues/reminders for the class.
I start the announcements (i.e Today we have PE, field trip Friday, robotics applications due Wednesday, etc.) and then open the floor for students to add their own SCHOOL announcements.
I also use this time set and track our class goals (attendance, homework return rate, etc.).
ACTIVITY: A quick and fun activity that gets the class working together.
The purpose of the activity is to work as a team, review academic concepts, and have fun together. There are tons of different ways to use this time. Read a short book. Play a quick game like categories or electricity. Do a round of I Have, Who Has cards. Review spelling words. Share writing. There is really no limit to what you can do.
Some teachers on my team have found it helpful to have preset activities for each day. This helps them stick to a 10 minute meeting but keeps the meetings meaningful and fun.
Here is a quick sample of a weekly activity plan:
- Monday - Plus/Delta Chart & Weekly Goal Setting
- Tuesday - Would You Rather? (ex. Would you rather go to Africa or Space? Why?)
- Wednesday - Celebrations (Students share any celebrations they had in the past week.)
- Thursday - Well Wishes (Students share a good wish they have for someone in or outside of school)
- Friday - Game
Of course the really cool thing about a morning meeting is that there is no wrong way to do it. Make it your own and make it work for you and your classroom. It's all about building community!! I needed a clear structure to help me wrap my brain around things when I first started and then I liked the structure because it kept me focused, on point, and on time.
There are tons of great resources out there for Morning Meeting including book and activity cards. A simple google or TPT search can lead to feeling very overwhelmed. My very favorite greeting cards and activity cards were compiled by the AMAZING Christina Bainbridge from Bunting, Books, and Bright Idea. I'm sure you already follow her, but if not please go check out her blog immediately. She's an incredible teacher and very generous with her ideas. You can access her Greeting Cards and Activity Cards through Google Docs.
What resources do you use for Morning Meeting? Do you have a favorite greeting and/or activity? I'd love to hear what great things you do in your classroom with morning or class meetings.
Until next time, happy teaching and happy learning!