George Lucas Educational Foundation

How long should a daily morning meeting last? (SEL Webinar)

How long should a daily morning meeting last? (SEL Webinar)

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Do you use morning meetings in your classroom? Webinar presenter Kati Delahanty uses them to help build community within her classroom. Fabien L Montes asked how long this meeting should last...

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Elana Leoni's picture
Elana Leoni
Edcamper, Former @Edutopia, Founder of Social Media Marketing Consultancy aimed at helping educational orgs.

Hi Fabien,

Although I'm not sure on the exact lengths a morning meeting should last. We have a great video documenting what to do in a morning meeting.

Perhaps once you see what can be done in a morning meeting, you'll be able to estimate the time needed.

Heather Gallant's picture
Heather Gallant
Communications & Training Coordinator, Open Circle, a nonprofit SEL program

Hi Fabian,
SEL is certainly an important initiative, but as Timothy Shriver said at the webinar, we want to ensure that this movement is not another burden on schools and teachers, another "thing you have to do," so to speak. It's important that teachers are able to fit it into their already packed curriculum requirements and already busy days.

What we've learned at Open Circle is that the amount of time really depends upon how the meeting is structured. If you're using a curriculum like Open Circle's, there's a specific lesson that a teacher can cover in about 15 minutes and then reinforce the skill from the lesson throughout the school day, infusing it into other subject areas (e.g. using one of our Literature Connections books ( for the reading lesson). It's also important for teachers to attend professional development training to learn how to facilitate these lessons because that kind of facilitation is certainly a learned skill that's different than other types of instruction.

Without this kind of scaffolding around which to build your lessons, and without the training to become a skilled SEL facilitator, morning meetings could certainly become cumbersome to teachers, so much so that they might abandon SEL altogether. Then we're back where we started! Let's support teachers and classrooms so that they're prepared to succeed with SEL.

Pamela DeRossitte's picture

This is a good question, and when learning this process I discovered that the students are so thirsty for this kind of respectful and balanced interaction that they don't want to stop. But time boundaries must be established of course. The video, guides, and training helps so much in getting comfortable and efficient with this process, but facilitating this with your class will be the best guide. Once this process is established, students and teachers alike don't want to give it up!

Grace Rubenstein's picture
Grace Rubenstein
Former senior producer at Edutopia

I don't think there's a standard rule for how long the meetings should last -- it depends what you want the meeting to accomplish. When I visited the Jefferson County schools in Louisville to report our Schools That Work coverage, the morning meetings I saw there took about 20 minutes. They were very structured, with a greeting, song, morning message, and other elements. You can see our resources & downloads from Jefferson County for details on these practices:

Also, I definitely echo what Heather said. Planning, structure and training are key to making these meetings effective!

Kati Delahanty's picture

My colleagues and I plan a circle for our whole unit (all of our students) once a week, and I plan a circle to do with all of my classes (in my classroom) every other week (using SEL topics). These circles last 55 minutes (an entire class period).

Sometimes, though, the need for a circle arises organically and I can't plan for it--after a fight in the lunch room, when someone in our community experiences a tragedy, if the overall morale is incredibly low. These circles last as long as they need to (sometimes 15 minutes...sometimes 30).
Even when I run a circle that I haven't planned for, I incorporate a few rounds that we use in our planned circles. And that keeps them feeling structured and serious. Some of those rounds are: high/low (What is the best thing happening to you right now? What are you struggling with?), choose one word to describe how you are feeling right this minute, and I usually have them do some sort of free-writing which they will then share when they get the talking piece.

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