One aspect of our education model that exists for students in and out of the physical classroom is Morning Meeting. When we began our Emergency Distance Learning plan in the spring, we centered around the value of connection. It was intentional. We know that when students feel they belong, that they are part of something, it positively impacts their academic success. We also knew that in an emotional time of uncertainty, sustaining contact and connection with the community our students were used to spending seven hours a day with up until March 12th, 2020, was vital to their wellbeing.
We keep Morning Meeting as part of our instructional day because when we answer the question about where school is, and we say, it’s where students learn, we don’t just mean academics. School, and specifically Morning Meeting, for students in the Intergenerational Schools, is one place where our students learn academics, but it’s also where students learn about themselves, about others, and it’s one of the ways and places where they process the world around them.
What is Morning Meeting?
Morning Meeting is a key part of our Social Emotional Learning (SEL) curriculum, Responsive Classroom. It’s a structured, predictable class meeting that typically begins each day. For our middle school students, the time is referred to as Advisory Meeting. But, in both cases, it follows a predictable structure:
- Greeting: Students and teachers greet one other by name.
- Sharing: Students share information about important events in their lives. Listeners often offer empathetic comments or ask clarifying questions.
- Group Activity: Everyone participates in a brief, lively activity that fosters group cohesion and helps students practice social and academic skills (for example, reciting a poem, dancing, singing, or playing a game).
- Morning Message: Students read and interact with a short message written by their teacher. The message is crafted to help students focus on the work they’ll do in school that day.
From the Responsive Classroom website http://responsiveclassroom.org
Why is Morning Meeting Important?
We’ve noticed that our Jupiter behavior data has shown that students who regularly attend Morning Meeting are less likely to have negative behavior challenges throughout the day. But, that’s not why we have Morning Meeting.
The predictability of the meeting structure supports students’ confidence. Routine and ritual are important aspects of our SEL curriculum because they are how our students are able to learn. When they can predict what is going to happen next, they have the confidence to open up, take risks, and learn more.
Every single student hears their name within minutes of the start of the meeting. It sounds simple, but that recognition that each individual exists sets the tone and the culture of our classrooms and our schools.
You exist. You matter.
Molly Toussant, NBCT is the Director of Education for Intergenerational Schools. She is an accomplished educator with a passion and talent for developing innovative teaching curriculum.