By Teachers, For Teachers
One of the classroom management methods I grew to appreciate in my several decades of teaching was starting my class with a warmup. A tangible transition between the previous class (or recess) and mine seemed to orient students to my topic and make the entire class go more smoothly. For me, because I taught what is called specials, or pull-outs (I taught technology), I did this classroom management method at the beginning of a class period. When you do this classroom management method at the beginning of the day, it's called not a warm-up, but a morning meeting.
Morning meetings are a time when students and teacher gather together, usually in a circle, for an organized start-of-day activity. They can be as quick as 15 minutes or as long as 30. You determine this based on what students need to start their day as lifelong learners. Some days are quick; others, not so much. That's OK. In fact, it's good to be flexible with the schedule and responsive to student needs. They learn faster when you're listening to them, and come to believe they are worthy. As such, they begin to believe in themselves.
The broad purpose of a morning meeting is to transition students between home and school, to greet them as you would a guest in your house. It's an informal way to reacquaint everyone with each other and with the classroom ecosystem. Think of it on par with a family dinner, where parents and children come together in a relaxed environment to do something everyone enjoys. You start by welcoming students, reviewing the day's activities, discussing changes in the classroom, meeting new students, celebrating the accomplishments of classmates, and anything else that benefits from a whole-group meeting.
While it is informal, it is not disorganized. Here's how to make sure it goes smoothly:
I dug through the many ideas from my personal learning network and came up with these popular morning meeting activities:
As you use these, mix them up. Vary them to suit your students. Never use one two days in a row (except, of course, the greeting). You always want them fresh, thought-provoking, and engaging. An education pedagogy that works nicely with robust morning meetings is Whole Brain Teaching (click for my review).
It's tempting to run your morning meeting the same every day, with some sort of circle of students, holding hands, re-establishing the classroom community. That's fine, but if you want to kick your day starter up a notch, my favorite approach is something called Responsive Classroom. According to the website: "Responsive Classroom is an evidence-based approach to education that focuses on the strong relationship between academic success and social-emotional learning (SEL). The Responsive Classroom approach empowers educators to create safe, joyful, and engaging learning communities where all students have a sense of belonging and feel significant."
Responsive Classroom not only provides all the important day starters I've discussed, but encourages joy, risk-taking, student engagement, and the achievement of student potential. Plus, lots of teachers report that they no longer need "Discipline charts" or behavior apps because Responsive Classroom provides the tools for proper behavior that are reinforced throughout the day. The activities laid out by the (fee-based) program connect each in a scaffolded way to each other. Over time, according to those who love Responsive Classroom, it significantly improves student behavior and classroom community, allowing the academic goals to be more easily achieved.
Responsive Classroom organizes the morning meeting for teachers as follows:
Additionally, it ties start-of-day messages to the balance of the day, reinforcing those messages until they become part of the class and who students are.
I am not pushing Responsive Classroom. In fact, it's just one of several great approaches out there to building a positive classroom community. It just happens to be the one I'm familiar with from my school. Whatever way you start your class day, recognize it as an important 5-10 minutes that will set the tone for the rest of the day's learning. Deliver it thoughtfully, lovingly, and with care.
-- published first on TeachHUB.com
Jacqui Murray has been teaching K-18 technology for 20 years. She is the editor/author of more than 100 ed-tech resources, including a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum. She is an adjunct professor in ed-tech, CSG Master Teacher, webmaster for four blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice reviewer, CAEP reviewer, CSTA presentation reviewer, freelance journalist on ed-tech topics, and a weekly contributor to TeachHUB. You can find her resources at Structured Learning. Read Jacqui’s tech thriller series, To Hunt a Sub and Twenty-four Days.