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"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.

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Comments (33) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

PrincipalCross's picture
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.

Kristi's picture
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
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, former Elementary Principal


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
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.

sabascjr's picture

Hi Lisa,

Awesome post describing the power of building a strong classroom culture. I am a 5th grade teacher working in a departmentalized setting. While I would prefer to be in a self contained classroom, pressure from state testing has caused our upper elementary grades to rotate by subject area to limit the pressure on individual teachers. I noticed that other comments posted also described some of the problems I have in my classroom. As a 5th grade teacher, I believe in the power that morning meetings have to create a strong environment for learning. I also believe that our rotation schedule does more harm than good in terms of student discipline and community. Because of time constraints, I implement a modified morning meeting that starts each class period with my students. Although this does take up some instructional time, I do see the positive payoffs. Discipline issues are limited in comparison to other teachers that do not implement some type of morning meeting. It really does work and goes a long way towards making the rest of my classroom time run smoother because it sets the tone towards how we work as a community of learners in my classroom.

Thanks again for the insightful post and I thank the other comment posters for the insights into their classrooms.

judyd123's picture

Morning Meeting is a great idea. It can work at all levels. I teach kindergarten and have always begin the day like this with calendar and activities to follow. The children need the time to talk and engage with each other before a day of academics begins. The only problem now is time. My school schedule does not allow time for our morning meeting since RTI is now implemented. I can see the difference not having this time to meet. Children are social beings and need this type of experience.

judyd123's picture

Morning Meeting is a great idea. It can work at all levels. I teach kindergarten and have always begin the day like this with calendar and activities to follow. The children need the time to talk and engage with each other before a day of academics begins. The only problem now is time. My school schedule does not allow time for our morning meeting since RTI is now implemented. I can see the difference not having this time to meet. Children are social beings and need this type of experience.

Samyers's picture

I currently use a morning meeting everyday but I admit that I could spend a little more time implementing new activities. Our school has began a school-wide positive behavior meeting once a month. The school-wide positive behavior team gets together to discuss what lesson will be taught. The lesson objectives are the same school wide, however, the activities are geared toward grade levels. The first lesson taught in the school year shows students how to handle peers that are bothering or bullying them. We teach them the stop, walk, and talk method. Students hold up their hand and ask their classmate to stop doing the negative behavior. If the student does not stop then we ask the child to walk away from that student and remove themselves. Hopefully by this step the student stops and leaves that child alone. If not, then that child needs to get a teacher to help them. This method teaches children how to handle uncomfortable situations independently and gives the student a clear understanding of what bullying is and when they need to ask for help. It is neat to see the students as a school using the same technique and watching them use it effectively. In addition to this method, we also have high school students come in to teach some of the lessons and plan activities. The elementary students love when they come to visit and really pay attention to what they have to say. I am excited to continue our school wide lessons and also implement a more structured morning meeting in my classroom on a weekly basis.

Lisa Farmer's picture

We have used Morning Meetings in our building. The biggest struggle is not having enough time or protected time so we can have them every day. Does anyone use closing meetings instead due to specials and other time restraints in the morning?

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