As a teacher, you may have heard of morning meetings, but do you really know what they entail or the positive impact they can have on your classroom? Keep reading to get the lowdown on morning meetings and discover why you need to give them a try.
Morning meetings aren't necessarily a new concept, but they have been starting to pop up more frequently in both elementary and middle school classrooms across the country. The original idea for morning meetings was developed by Responsive Classroom, a well-known teaching approach that uses evidence to engage learners and create positive classroom culture. The primary goal of morning meetings is to give students a safe environment that:
- provides a sense of trust
- allows all students to feel important
- encourages respectful learning
- helps regulate emotions
- boosts empathy and teamwork
- separates home from school and prepares students for the day's events
- supports all aspects of learning—academic, emotional, and social
Now that we've touched on the basics of morning meetings, let's take a closer look at some evidence that will better illustrate their value as well as why you need them in your classroom.
The Value of Morning Meetings
Veteran educator and author Lisa Dabbs has a great deal of experience with morning meetings and has become an advocate for their importance. She was employed as an elementary principal in Pasadena, California, when she was introduced to the model of morning meetings through a fellow educator. At the time, her school was struggling—kids were having behavior issues galore, and teachers were having trouble handling them.
Lisa collaborated with a team of teachers to get morning meetings rolling, which took some hard work and dedication, no doubt. However, once the morning meetings began, they quickly gained momentum. Before too long, they completely transformed the California elementary school's community for the better. Kids began to care about each other more and take responsibility for their actions. In addition, bullying decreased, absences dropped, and the overall culture of the school was greatly improved.
Another great evidence-based example that highlights the benefits of morning meetings is Highlander Charter School in Providence, Rhode Island, a Pre-K-12 school in an urban area that has several students who are at risk and/or special needs. According to Edutopia, Highlander is a firm believer in morning meetings and, as a result, usually outperforms the state in several achievement gap areas. For example, disadvantaged students, English-language learners, and disabled students all tend to surpass state norms. This high level of performance, of course, is in addition to the other perks we've already touched on—kids at Highlander get to know each other on a deeper level and get in tune with their emotions, and classrooms become safe communities where learning is taken seriously.
After reading these success stories, you can see why morning meetings are being put in place in schools everywhere—they help mold students who are happier, more empathetic, better prepared, and more successful. Now let's explore how you can incorporate morning meetings into your classroom!
How to Establish Morning Meetings
The idea of having a daily morning meeting and actually having a morning meeting are two very different things. As we mentioned above, incorporating them takes some time and patience, especially since results may not be immediately evident. That being said, there are several things that must be taken into consideration if you want to integrate morning meetings into your classroom.
- Educate yourself on all aspects of morning meetings. There are several helpful resources online, and Responsive Classroom also offers a book that gives you several pointers on how to use morning meetings in your teaching and tips for creating greetings. You should also explore more success stories and ask other teachers if they're familiar with the concept of morning meetings or if they'd be willing to collaborate with you. Additionally, there may be networking opportunities available online that could connect you with teachers who already have them in place.
- After you've researched morning meetings and decided that you'd like to give them a try, you'll need to take a look at your daily class schedule to see where you can cut a few minutes here and there to provide the extra 15-30 minutes that are needed. As you probably know, this can be tricky since school days are typically jam packed with objectives and requirements. Obviously, morning meetings need to take place in the morning for them to provide the most benefit. As noted earlier, the meetings offer a good separation between home life and school life.
- Before beginning your first morning meeting, you'll want to inform your students that something new will be taking place when they get to school each day. This will keep them in the know and prevent any surprises. You should clearly state what the purpose of the meetings will be and what will be expected of students during them.
- Let parents know that you're planning to integrate a new tool into your daily classroom routine and inform them of the goals and basics surrounding morning meetings. Welcome questions and be available to answer them.
- Once everyone is on board and aware of the changes that will be taking place in your classroom, you'll want to take some time to organize and plan your meetings. Although you can structure your meetings in a way that works best for your classroom, they usually have four main components, which we'll explore next.
Components of Morning Meetings
1. Greeting - As the name suggests, this portion of morning meetings is for students and teachers to greet each other every day. Everyone in the room should be included and greeted cheerfully. One method is to provide a tangible item and allow students to pass it around until everyone has been greeted (the person with the item is greeted, then passes it on to someone else).
2. Sharing - During sharing time, each student has the opportunity to share a tidbit about themselves. This could be what they had for breakfast or even troubles they're having at home. Students are encouraged to listen to everyone's thoughts and ask questions.
3. Activity - This portion of the meeting should include a group activity that every student joins and works on together. Activities should encourage collaboration and reinforce social and/or academic skills. An example could be students passing a ball around the room for as long as possible without dropping it.
4. Daily Announcements - Announcements usually come at the end of the meeting and prepare students for the day ahead. Provide a rundown of the day's events (schedule, assignments, lunch menu, etc.) and announce any birthdays or special news if not shared previously.
Now that you've heard all about morning meetings and what they can do for your classroom, why not get planning and give them a try? You may be pleasantly surprised with the results! Always keep in mind that you can adjust your meetings to best suit your grade level and students, and if something isn't working, feel free to tweak it until it does.