In a classroom, a strong community is fundamental.
The children are expected to work well together, openly share their ideas, and take academic risks in order to grow and learn as an individual and student. But how does one successfully build this sense of community? Simply stated - the Morning Meeting.
The Morning Meeting has four essential parts: the greeting, share, the activity, and the morning message. To begin the meeting, children properly greet one another using eye contact, a pleasant voice, and a firm handshake. Commencing the meeting with a greeting gives a sense of belonging to each student which is an essential component when working on building a solid community.
During the share, children are encouraged to listen as another student shares an important story or event in their life. Likewise, the children are asked to respond with a comment or a question regarding that particular student’s share. This is not an easy task for an 8-or 9-year-old child. Often times, children want to reply with a similar activity they too have experienced, rather than responding to the speaker’s share. Thus listening to one another begins in the circle every morning. With this daily activity, the students are learning about their peers while they are gaining invaluable communication skills that will hopefully last a lifetime.
Another facet of the Morning Meeting is the activity. Taking part in the activity is crucial. When children do so, they are unassumingly taking risks they would not normally take in an academic setting. Participating in an unfamiliar game or being the leader of an activity can be intimidating to many youngsters, and as educators, it is important to teach children how to overcome these feelings in a safe and nurturing environment. With gentle guidance and support from their peers and teacher, children eventually learn that taking a risk can result in a positive outcome, building self confidence. As a result, children become comfortable with their environment and genuine learning in an academic setting takes place.
The final component of the meeting is the morning message. The message can set the stage for the learning that lies ahead, or it can be used to review previously learned information. Either way, their minds are reflecting upon the material and the children are engaged early in the day, anticipating the day’s lesson.
It is true that setting the expectations for the Morning Meeting requires time, patience, and a great deal of modeling, however the benefits that come from this daily activity are far reaching in the many days of discovery and confidence that come from each child in your class. The components of this daily gathering work simultaneously allowing each individual to thrive. It begins in the Morning Meeting - where effective learning takes place, listening is appreciated and valued by all.