A healthy morning routine does wonders in starting the day right. One way to do this in school while prioritizing student wellbeing is via a simple morning meeting. The original idea of morning meetings was derived from the evidence-based approach known as the Responsive Classroom. Based on principles that aim to build academic and social-emotional competencies, morning meetings have been found to improve student-teacher interaction, resulting in enhanced emotional support for students and refined classroom organization.1
Understanding the Goals of Morning Meetings
The main goal of a morning meeting is to provide a safe and convenient learning atmosphere for students during their hours in school that allows them to trust one another, feel important, as well as to boost empathy and teamwork. Not only that, this little session paves the way toward respectful learning and helps in regulating their emotions as well.
Besides that, morning meeting also supports students’ social and emotional learning (SEL) in various ways.2 For one, they acquire the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with each other through the practice of communication skills. Furthermore, morning meeting helps in boosting their self-confidence and encouraging positive behaviours. Aside from that, the morning meeting routine also promotes social awareness among students that encompasses four main areas: perspective-taking, empathy, diversity, and respect.
Basics of Morning Meetings
Across American schools, there are many forms and formats of morning meetings. One format involves the gathering of students in a circle for about 20 to 30 minutes at the beginning of each school day and subsequently proceeding to four main components: greeting, sharing, group activity, and morning message. Greeting is when the teacher and students welcome each other to start the day on a positive note. This is then followed by an engaged sharing session where both teacher and students exchange some information or personal experiences. This leads the students to practice active listening and encourages them to ask follow-up questions. Group activity is carried out as the third component to hone the students’ social and emotional skills. The teacher then wraps up the session by detailing the plans and activities for the rest of the day.
Morning Meeting at Shattuck- St. Mary’s
Morning meetings at Shattuck-St. Mary’s Forest City International School are especially tailored to our student community. Most Mondays, the whole of Elementary School gather together for a community meeting. The focus here is on our Kindness Curriculum, supporting our social and emotional learning focus. Here we recognise students who have been seen being kind (our Kindness Spy sends nominations of students AND teachers). Ideas of how to be kind and the reasons to be kind are shared and announcements are also made at these meetings.
Other days, some classes will meet with our Counsellor to further our work on being kind while other classes stay with their homeroom teachers. The latter classes may work on identifying class and personal goals. Developing the ability of students to set SMART goals and to work towards them is a lifelong skill that even the youngest of students can understand, with instruction and support. Some classes may practice yoga or even read silently, providing a calm introduction to the day. News sharing, checking the weather, study skills, and discussing and resolving issues from the previous day are other morning meeting activities.
Finally, most Fridays start with a session of Pound Fitness, again for the full Elementary School. This high energy, noisy activity involves exercise to music with drum sticks. It’s a great way to get students active, blood flowing and the brain primed for a successful day of learning.