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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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The Power of the Morning Meeting: 5 Steps Toward Changing Your Classroom and School Culture

"The whole morning meeting not only sets a really good tone for the students, but it sets a tone for me." - Teacher in Louisville, Kentucky

When I first learned about the Morning Meeting model, I was working as an elementary school principal in Pasadena, California. I was new to that school, so I was skeptical about launching too many initiatives, but also curious about how it could work to transform my school and the lives of our students.

The Morning Meeting was first proposed to me by a new teacher who had studied it in her pre-service classes. She explained that the model was designed to:

  • Set the tone for respectful learning
  • Establish a climate of trust
  • Motivate students to feel significant
  • Create empathy and encourage collaboration
  • Support social, emotional and academic learning

She had me at "respectful learning!"

You see, I'd come to a school that was in a bit of trouble. Kids were struggling with behavior issues outside of class, teachers were finding ways to remove kids from their class, and it was clear that I needed to put my faith in something that I believed could improve the culture and climate of the school. I knew that I had some serious work ahead of me if I was going to build a positive sense of community. So I worked with a small team of teachers to launch the Morning Meeting -- and was thrilled with how it spread like wildfire across our campus.

Having been able to observe this school pre- and post-Morning Meeting, I can tell you that it was transformational. We didn't use a fancy prepared program or spend thousands of dollars on training. We simply rolled up our sleeves and, with the help of this one new teacher (and good resources), we were able to "rebuild" the school community and encourage kids to care for one another. The resulting decrease in bullying and increase in pupil attendance was amazing! Kids began taking ownership of their actions and resolving their own conflicts. They began to feel safe at school and share more about their lives. They were able to meet each other face-to-face and appreciate and honor the differences.

How It Begins

Making the Morning Meeting a daily practice in your class will take work. Let's look at five simple steps that can help you get started.

1. Learn How to Use the Morning Meeting

As with any new classroom initiative you are considering, be sure to learn everything you can about how it works. Take time to discover the whats, hows and whys. Do a little bit of investigating. Seek out colleagues who might already be using it, and see if this process can work for you. (Check out the resources below.) See if you can collaborate with others at your site to join you.

2. Establish a Time

Before you commit to a Morning Meeting, you'll need to be sure that it fits with your schedule. Ideally it needs to happen every day, first thing in the morning, just after students arrive. Give it a good 15-30 minutes but no longer than that. You want enough time to connect, but not so long that students have difficulty staying focused.

3. Introduce the Morning Meeting to Students

Take a few days to introduce the idea of a class-wide meeting that will happen every morning in classroom. Let students know what your hopes are. Be transparent about the goals that you want to accomplish, and how important each student will be to this process.

4. Communicate with Parents

Parents will be receptive to the Morning Meeting if you keep them informed. Let them know right away what it is and how you intend to use it in your class. As with any project, letting parents know about the important learning you have planned will support you when kids go home and share their experience. Consider inviting parents to join a Morning Meeting in your classroom, if it works for you.

5. Phase In the Process

Once you're confident about moving forward, share all the components of the Morning Meeting structure with as many details as your students need. You’ll soon find that classrooms have many adaptations to the model. A general order for introducing the process to students could be:

  1. Greeting
  2. Sharing
  3. Group Activity
  4. Announcements

Keep in mind that a full Morning Meeting may take weeks to implement, but I believe that the benefits will be worth the effort.

Where to Learn More

Whenever I'm getting ready to try something new, I like to have some backup. Here are three resources that can support you as give this a go. Be sure to adapt them for your needs.

  1. Morning Meeting & YouTube Inspiration
  2. How to Serve a Nutritious Morning Meeting
  3. Morning Meeting Pinterest Resources

Finally, I encourage you to watch this video on "Community Begins with the Morning Meeting." It's a beautiful example of how this model supports students and teachers to start the day and pave the way to academic success and a happy, healthy school.

The five steps I've shared today are not inclusive, but they are a way to help you consider how the Morning Meeting could launch in your classroom. Are you using the Morning Meeting? Is it working for you? Do you have suggestions of your own? I'd love to have you share them in the comments section below.

Comments (28)Sign in or register to postSubscribe to comments via RSS

CSchumaci's picture
CSchumaci
Kindergarten Teacher from Hutchinson, MN

I recently incorporated Morning Meeting into my daily routine. My students LOVE greeting one another each morning, and look forward to the different greetings we have each week. I have found Morning Meeting to bring a sense of community in my classroom. Due to teaching kindergarten, I have found my Morning Meetings to take a little different order than what was recommended in the post (as well as in the Responsive Classroom training). Do you think it's necessary to follow the order of greeting, sharing, group activity and announcements? Or, is it okay to juggle the order up? I feel the order I have created for my students works best for my classroom...but if there's a reasoning to do it in the order presented in this blog, then maybe I should be following that? Any feedback would be appreciated!

Laura Thomas's picture
Laura Thomas
Director, Antioch University New England Center for School Renewal
Facilitator 2014

Hi CSchumaci

While I'm by no means an expert, I've always found that I get the best results when customize the technique (whatever it may be) to the kids I have in front of me! I'd suggest trying it both ways to see if you notice a difference. If one works better for you than the other, then you have your answer. You're the expert on the kiddos in your room- so use your best judgement. (And let us know what you find out, please?)

Dawn Agdomar's picture
Dawn Agdomar
Form four teacher from St.Lucia

Morning Meetings for Students
At my school 8:15 to 8:30 is timetabled for homeroom session. Teachers and students are to report to their homeroom during this time. However, some teachers and student see this session as a free period and opt to skip the session. This creates an unsettled atmosphere at the school.
This article gave me an idea for homeroom sessions; the concept of the morning meeting. At the time, I was a bit skeptical but, I decided to go along with it since I had this fifteen minute session every morning. Although I attended the homeroom sessions, it was not working as I had expected. Most of my students skip this session and are not settled for their first class. They believed that the homeroom sessions are useless and boring.
The routine before adding the idea was clear. First I would take the attendance and then we would say the school prayer. After this, students are supposed to sit quietly and wait for the first class, which would take place in the next ten minutes. Since most students are absent during this session, when it was time for their first class, they are not settled. Some would enter the teacher's class late and be very disruptive.
By introducing the morning meeting, I hoped to increase attendance at homeroom sessions and put students in the right frame of mind for their first class. I must report that I did achieve my goals. As soon as I presented my plans to students, they showed immediate interest. They were all in attendance, punctual and participative. They love the thought of getting to know something personal about their classmates and saying something nice to students in the class.
However, I now have more work to do; I need to keep researching online to get new topics and varying ideas about the structure of the meeting. I do plan to get the students involved in this aspect so I would have time to focus on other things.
In spite of this, I am glad that I introduced this idea. The fact my students are now excited about homeroom sessions and are looking forward to the next session is all worth it. At the end of the meeting, they were ready to start their next lesson. This environment paves the way for learning to take place.
I plan to share this idea with other homeroom sponsors at my school. Readers, I would like to advice that if teachers are interested in having a class filled with students that are eager to face their day in a positive way then morning meetings is the way to achieve this.

Dana Alcala's picture
Dana Alcala
2nd grade teacher from Hesperia, CA

This sounds like a great way to start our day. My school has a high rate of discipline issues with bullying and defiance. I try very hard each year to build a classroom community that respects and supports each other through discussion and positive reinforcement. The Morning Meeting sounds like the very thing we need to build a stronger foundation for our classroom and school-wide community. As soon as my students enter the room each morning they get straight to work. Even in week 25 I still struggle to get 10 or so students motivated to work right away. Having a 15 minute gathering to discuss and participate in a group activity based on a specific character trait may be a better strategy to motivate them. I particularly am interested in teaching the children to greet each other with a handshake, high-five, or hug and provide time weekly to share their positive thoughts about each other. I plan on igniting this next week. If anyone has a great mini-lesson to share I'd appreciate it.

PrincipalCross's picture
PrincipalCross
Principal at Legacy Academy iSchool

This is all good stuff. I think this type of culture is needed in the classroom.

I also believe that your class should start with the "Power of Why". There will be much fewer discipline problems when students have build up the trust that comes from knowing that you are teaching from a perspective that is driven by something other than self gain. I know that it is hard to imagine that teachers are driven by self gain, but when we are gearing up for a test, or worried about some other part of our job that is high stakes, we easily begin to shift from doing things in the classroom for the right reasons to a personal agenda. When your students believe in the reasons Why you are teaching, you will have success and less discipline issues because they have buy in.

http://mrcross.org

Kristi's picture
Kristi
Kindergarten Teacher from Minnesota

I have been using the Morning Meeting in my classroom for the last four years. I feel that it creates a greater community in my classroom. This year with a difficult group of students, it give us a time to talk about changes that need to be made in our day as well as have fun. I notice changes in students when they can reflect over what happened during the day or previous days. I am thinking of having a end of the day meeting too.
One of the best benefits of Morning Meeting is using the message to add in extra educational materials that I was not able to get to during the previous day or to just give an extra scoop of practice. Does anyone else add in educational information? Any ideas for kindergarten students?

Kristi's picture
Kristi
Kindergarten Teacher from Minnesota

Hi CSchumaci,
I have found that I always do the greeting first and the message last. I switch the game and sharing back and fourth once in a while. For me, that it was works best. How do you structure your Morning Meeting? It is nice to hear from another K teacher. Thanks! Kristi

John S. Thomas's picture
John S. Thomas
First & Second Grade Teacher/Adjunct faculty Antioch University New England
Facilitator 2014

Kristi,

I integrate many things from our curriculum into morning meeting in my 1st and 2nd grade classroom. Everything from science, social studies, language arts, to math. Much of my social studies curriculum is embedded in the Responsive Classroom work I do in Morning Meeting book and the First Six Weeks of School book. These are a MUST OWN for elementary teachers. (and the First Days of School- Harry Wong)

My favorite way to integrate curriculum into our morning meeting is our current greeting. We all stand at circle. Using a large number line on the white board, I place colored magnets on certain numbers. We are basically skip counting in our greeting.

After reviewing the expectations, I start at 0, the next student says 3. We continue around the circle until we get to a certain number. Lets say 21 is the number. When a student gets to 21 the whole class greets the student, they sit down and the next student starts over with 0. This continues until the entire class has been greeted.

I ALWAYS have a number line or list of numbers for those kids who struggle learning the skip counting pattern to refer to if needed. But I have found even those students who might be currently struggling with counting try to challenge themselves a little and figure it out.

This greeting proves very helpful for helping students internalize those counting patterns in math. Plus it makes math fun and provides challenges as well. I have found this greeting can be easily adapted for any grade. In K you might count by 1's and stop at 5 where as in grade 3 you might do multiples of 12 and in the upper grades you might do counting by 24's to 192.

In my opinion, Responsive Classroom's Morning Meeting is KEY to establishing a positive learning culture in a classroom.

Trisha's picture
Trisha
2nd grade teacher

This sounds exactly like what my classroom and school needs. We have a difficult problem with discipline and I've been looking for ways to promote positive behaviors. I really like the idea of starting with a short fun activity. I feel like students will start their day more excited and anxious to learn. The peer activities will promote a closer community of learners in which students can feel safe. I can't wait to start implementing this in my own classroom.

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