Educators everywhere are discovering the benefits of weaving social emotional learning activities into the school day by starting with a Morning Meeting. By investing a small amount of time to establish trusting and respectful classroom community, students feel safe and supported working alongside peers.
If you’re not familar with what a morning meeting looks like, please start by looking at the video below created by Edutopia:
How do you structure a Morning Meeting?
A morning meeting may look a little different from one classroom to the next, and can include a range of activities from getting to know you conversations to themed prompts focused on a specific content area. Typically, however, they often follow a similar pattern that involves a key rhythm for starting the day.
Consider including these four components in Morning Meetings which, when put together, total about 15 minutes of engagement:
You may be familiar with the positive impacts of welcoming students at the door as they arrive. Equally important is allowing students to spend time greeting each other as they reconnect and prepare for the day. There are many fun ways to invite students to say hello to each other including handshakes, fist bumps, songs, and chants. The key to greetings is ensuring that every student feels recognized and seen when the day begins in the classroom.·
Sharing is the part of the meeting that allows students to have their voices heard. This may include a round-robin style morning meeting question of the day, a partner turn and talk, or an opportunity for volunteers to speak what’s on their mind. Often, a guiding question is used to prompt reflection or conversation, and this can be related to content in a way that sparks deeper personal or social connection to the curriculum. For example “Which part of the butterfly life cycle do you think is the most exciting?”
The activity is the most open-ended element of the Morning Meeting and can be anything from playing a game to singing a song or doing dance together. Whatever the focus, the idea is to allow students to engage in an active manner before settling in for the day. Activities can be directly related to content or purely for fun, and can also be an opportunity to explore general or emerging social-emotional challenges in the classroom.
For ideas for short activities and group lessons, please check our SEL resources page.
Many children thrive on predictability, and wrapping up with a review of the day’s upcoming schedule is a helpful practice. This is especially true when flow varies based on enrichment class rotations, or when special events and assemblies occur, or announcements need to be made.
In addition to reading the schedule out loud, consider posting a visual schedule for students to track throughout the day. This can include subject or period words, subject area icons, or pictures of the instructors they will see throughout the day.In addition to these basic components, you may also choose to close out the Morning Meeting with a ritual, such as a class chant or cheer to underscore the sense of community and develop class pride.
What are the teacher’s responsibilities for a Morning Meeting?
Depending on the grade level, many activities can be led by students, allowing for a greater sense of agency and investment in classroom function and community. As is often a best practice, the teacher’s role in a Morning Meeting is largely that of the facilitator (though be sure to answer questions and play the games as an active participant).
You may choose to rotate a student of the day to select the specifics of which greeting will be used, or to read off the schedule to peers. Still, having a template for a general plan of how the meeting will flow from day to day is helpful. We’ve created this simple outline to help set up each week of community-building fun!
Setting the stage for Morning Meetings
Making the time and space for class gatherings pays off in the long run when students feel safe and connected as a community of learners. Whether you adopt the practice of Morning Meetings from day one or integrate them later in the school year, remember to set the stage with patience and intention. It will take time for students to settle into the routine and to get used to the rhythm and flow. Have clear expectations for learning and teamwork, and consider posting classroom agreements near the meeting space.
When possible, conduct meetings in a designated space where students may leave their desks to sit together as a group while also having space to move about as necessary during activities. Most importantly, remember that this is a time for everyone to feel seen, heard, and present together.