Morning meeting is a semi-structured time each day when students and educators meet to greet each other and do an activity. Holding morning meetings regularly helps build a positive classroom community where students build meaningful relationships with each other, build confidence, and problem-solve together.
REASONS FOR MORNING MEETING
Sometimes, any extra activities or initiatives can feel like too much. So, the question that needs to be asked is, “Is morning meeting worth it?” The answer is a definite yes. There are numerous benefits to starting each day with morning meeting in the classroom that make it worth the few extra minutes each morning. It’s important to note that benefits are seen when morning meeting is a regular and consistent part to each day.
Here are a few positive outcomes that morning meeting can support:
- Builds meaningful relationships and establishes trust (student to student and teacher to student)
- Sets the tone for a positive classroom climate
- Creates a space to highlight and discuss mental health needs
- Promotes the idea that all voices matter and are listened to
- Provides opportunities for teaching social, emotional, and academic skills
- Increases student confidence and self-awareness
- Motivates learners to do their best
- Supports academic learning
- Creates a kinder community
Simply put, morning meetings help all students do their best. The list above shows qualities and characteristics that every educator could use in their classroom. Best of all, implementing a morning meeting doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult. Read on to learn about simple and effective techniques for starting morning meetings in the classroom.
PREPARING MORNING MEETING
Prior to starting your morning meeting, it’s important to take some time to consider your approach and plan topics to discuss. Before you begin, here are some important tips to help your process go smoothly.
Plan a time (and be consistent). Morning meeting should take anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. That greatly depends on how long you want to spend discussing topics and doing activities with your learners. It may also depend on the age/grade level of your students, or even just how much time you have available to you. Start with the time that you have and plan to stick with it.
Be willing to be flexible. Not all school or classroom schedules are exactly the same. If you do not have a morning time available for morning meeting, consider doing a class meeting time just before lunch or even at the end of the day. Find what works for you so that you can be consistent with it over time.
Explain morning meeting to your students. Prior to starting, talk about morning meeting with your students. Explain to them that it is a daily class meeting where students will have a chance to talk, listen, and learn some new things.
Involve students from the start. Kids and young adults play an important role in morning meeting. Really, it’s all about them. You might even want to ask for their feedback and brainstorm some topics they would like to talk about. For example, if a student tells you they want to talk about dirt bikes, you could make a note to lead a lesson focusing on interests and hobbies.
Come up with group ground rules. Before even beginning your first morning meeting session, brainstorm ground rules to help create a positive environment from the start. It helps to have an idea of what ground rules you want in the classroom, but it’s also important to make the rules with your students. This helps them to be part of the process from the start. Try to make sure all the rules are phrased in a positive way. Sample ground rules might include: Listen when others are speaking and disagree respectfully. Keep reading to find out how you can get your group ground rules printable!
Plan daily or weekly topics. A huge key to a successful morning meeting is having a game plan for each session. You can plan each week by considering what skills your students need to work on most at the moment. For example, if your students are struggling with minding their own business or showing respect, those topics might need to be the focus. If you want to skip the planning and get right down to the skills kids need, you can use these morning meeting SEL cards for the whole year.
FACILITATING MORNING MEETING
Once you have a game plan, the steps for following through with a morning meeting are fairly simple. Morning meetings can be most effective when students are seated in a circle to face each other. Of course, do what works for your classroom!
To get started, follow this daily five-step procedure:
Perform greetings. Start every session by having students greet each other. You can give students a daily greeting activity, such as giving each other a fist bump or turning and chatting with a neighbor. Another option is to let one student choose the greeting for the whole class. It’s helpful to change the greetings from session to session to keep it fun and interesting.
Introduce a topic or skill. Talk about the topic or skill of the day. Possible skills might include empathy, responsibility, organization, studying for tests, or problem-solving with friends. Bring up the topic by discussing what it means and why it’s important for your students to learn about.
Start a discussion. Get kids talking by bringing up some discussion starters. For this step, it’s important to let kids and young adults take the lead. Let them answer, discuss, and respond to each other. For example, if you are targeting respect, you might ask questions such as: What does it mean to be respectful? What does it look like? How does it feel when you are respected by others? Have you ever been disrespected? How did that feel? How do you handle it when you feel disrespected? As you can imagine, many of these questions might lead way to other questions, and that’s okay! Getting your learners talking about the skill is important.
Do an activity. Have your learners engage in an activity or two on the target skill. This helps them practice and generalize the skills they are working on. The types of activities that kids do is entirely up to you. When working on responsibility, you might have them make a list of 5 things they are responsible for. When targeting kindness, you might have your students role-play an example of someone showing kindness. It’s important to vary the activities each day so that every morning meeting is fun, interesting, and engaging.
Reflect. After practicing activities, give time to reflect on today’s new skill. Have students share one way they will use the skill today or in the week ahead. For example, if learning about coping strategies, have your students share one or two coping strategies they might use or try this week. Another strategy is having learners summarize the new skill in ten words or less. Finally, it’s also important to give time to talk about any other concerns, thoughts, or needs kids have. This can be related or unrelated to the topic at hand. It’s a great way to help students move on and start their day positively.
STARTING MORNING MEETING
If you are curious about starting morning meeting, just give it a try! It doesn’t need to be perfect or polished at the first go. It might even help to have a colleague or two start morning meetings at the same time as you. This can help you discuss strategies and compare along the way.
It’s always a work in progress, and you can let your students know you are learning together.
If you want to start morning meeting without extra prep work, you can grab these Social Emotional Learning Morning Meeting Cards for the entire year. Each card targets one skill for every day of the school year, starting with self-awareness and leading to decision-making. Every card follows the five-step process above outlined with topics, discussions, and activities already done for you.
I recently just added an elementary version of the SEL Morning Meeting Cards, filled with many of the same critical social emotional skills but in an elementary-friendly way.
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