Morning Meetings: Creating a Safe Space for Learning (Transcript)
Alli: Anybody want to share about how they're feeling today? Evan, how are you feeling?
Alli: You're feeling hungry. Big surprise, right? Owen, how are you feeling today?
Owen: I'm feeling sleepy, excited and fine.
Alli: Wow, you're feeling lots of emotions today. And finally, Chloe.
Definitely noticed a change in some of my shyer students. At the beginning of the year they're really kind of clammed up, and they're nervous. But then as the year progresses, they really open up and feel comfortable sharing things about their family or things that might not be so comfortable to share. And we become a support system for each other.
No matter what kind of morning they had at home, they're going to come into my classroom, they're going to sit in a circle and be with their friends. Just having that kind of clear structure and expectation just puts them at ease.
Student: And I hope you have a great time.
Molly: Thank you.
Alli: In order to get any kid to learn, they really have to feel safe. They have to feel respected. Without that, you're not going to accomplish much academically.
The greeting part of Morning Meeting, it really changes day-to-day. Sometimes we'll do a Mingle Greeting.
So today I'm going to hand you one card. And your job is to try to find your match. You want to find the person who has the improper fraction to match your model, or if you have a model, you want to try to find the person that has the matching improper fraction. You're going to make eye contact. Give them a little fist bump to say "Good morning." And the question I want you to ask today is just, "How are you feeling?" Mingle.
Student: How are you feeling?
Student: How are you feeling?
Student: Okay, thanks.
Alli: The more that you can make the behavioral stuff for your entire classroom, instead of just focusing on individual kids, it really helps those kids not feel so isolated, for things that they're trying to work on.
Alli: And then I typically move into Calendar. That's where I really get a chance to go over their day with them, so they know what to expect. They don't have to be on their toes. And then we move into sharing.
Student: This is a very special fan, and I can really do this. You can pick up the--
Alli: Some parts of Morning Meeting may be longer in certain grade levels, but every Morning Meeting really has the same structure to it.
Elliot: Good morning, Harrison.
Harrison: Good morning, Elliot.
Elliot: Hope you have an amazing day.
Harrison: Thank you, you, too.
Mia: I hope you have a stellar day.
Student: Good morning, Jason.
Jason: Good morning, Mia.
Student: Hope you have an extraordinary day.
Calvin: Hope you have a great day.
Student: Thanks, you, too.
Gretchen: A lot of times, we'll include some sort of a question with our greeting, and so the kids are sharing a piece of themselves. They want to be heard.
They want to be heard. They want to be seen. They want to make those connections with each other.
Student: If you could go to any State in the U.S., which State would you go to?
Student: Probably Alaska, 'cause they have a lot of cool fish there.
Harrison: I would probably go to Hawaii, because I like flowers.
Alli: And then finally, and probably the most famous part of Morning Meeting, is the activity. We tend to work a lot on teamwork.
It's important that we always know how to be kind to each other, how to work together. We're going to try our best to work together as a team, so that we can maybe exceed our goal of 19.
In the teacher role, you're also making sure that the kids understand, if the tower falls, how can we support the person who's putting that block on?
Alli: Nineteen blocks! Excellent! Okay.
Students: Yay! [cheering.]
Alli: This is a safe zone.
Audience is nice and quiet.
If the blocks fall, life will go on. We will be okay.
Alli: Oh, that's okay. That's okay! [applause.] Give her a hand. That was awesome.
Gretchen: We try to include some leadership activities and group challenges with the 5th graders. So we try to raise it up a level, to think about how are they communicating with each other? How are they solving problems as a group?
With Group Juggle, we're trying to safely get our birds to each other, and not touch the ground. What's your strategy, Mia?
Mia: Sometimes if you say their name, it helps them to join in a little if you're about to throw to them.
Gretchen: And Calvin, what do you think?
Calvin: If somebody misses, don't start laughing, because it kind of gets you all wound up.
Gretchen: All right, here we go.
It builds as they get older and older, they're more comfortable with it. It helps them with public speaking. They're not stressed out about sharing their ideas when they're right here in the classroom.
Alli: I love it. I can see right away by looking around my circle who's in a good space, who's not. So I really use that information to help with the kids be ready to learn.
Gretchen: We hold each other accountable. If I'm going to listen to what you're sharing in the morning, you're going to listen to what I'm sharing. We're going to do it in a respectful way and a caring way. And that respect carries out throughout the school, and also out onto the playground. And ideally, out into their community.