Responsive Classroom Workshop- Grade Proposal : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Responsive Classroom Training

August 18, 1999 by Beth Cramer

Morning Meeting

What is the morning meeting?

The morning meeting is an important component of the Responsive Classroom. It is valuable because the morning meeting meets human needs allowing members of the classroom to feel significant, while at the same time providing fun and a sense of belonging in their classroom environment. The morning meeting provides opportunities for students to interact in a responsible way and develop social skills at the same time. Also, academic, social and emotional learning can all take place during the morning meeting.

Successful morning meetings require structure. First, the students need to form a circle which allows everyone to see each other at the morning meeting. Next, setting a time limit between 15 to 30 minutes works well with students' attention span, allowing for a more positive experience. Students should come to the morning meeting with empty hands, which eliminates distractions and allows for active participation. Lastly, there are four components of the morning meeting: greeting, sharing, activity, and news and announcements.

The morning meeting opens with a warm greeting. The basic greeting involves turning toward the person, giving eye contact and greeting them by their first name. There are many variations that allow for creative greetings that never get old. Often times the basic greeting needs to be modeled and practiced before trying more complicated greetings.

After the greeting, students have an opportunity to know and be known through sharing. Students who share are encouraged to use a topic sentence to introduce their idea. Once they introduce their topic, they assertively say, "I am ready for questions and comments." Students should be encouraged to ask questions that can not be answered with a yes or no . The teacher can model the types of questions and comments they would like students to use. In order to move on to the next component, the teacher might limit each day to three or four shares. Transition comments need to be modeled so that sharing goes smoothly.

The next element of the morning meeting is the activity. The activities are enjoyable and help to build group unity. They also provide opportunities to model and practice social skills. If a student is sleepy during morning meeting, the activity is a sure way to wake him/her up. The Guidelines for the Responsive Classroom provides examples of activities that can be used during morning meeting.

The morning meeting closes with news and announcements which involves four elements. The news and announcements are written on a chart that the students interact with when they first come into the classroom in the morning. The top of the chart contains a friendly greeting. The second section states something about today or yesterday. The third section requires the students to answer a question and write their response directly on the chart. Interactive questions can tie in with the day's lessons. A friendly closure ends the news and announcements as well as the morning meeting. What have I done in the past?

As I learned the important elements of the morning meeting, I questioned whether I had implemented this approach in my classroom. Often, I greeted my jr. high students in the hallways. I would say, "good morning" and a "how are you this morning." Sometimes I would ask them about the sports activity they participated in the day before. Their response would vary. Some would mumble a greeting and some would expand on their day before. Very seldom did my students share eye contact during our morning greetings. Sharing occurred throughout the day. Most of the time my students would catch me in the morning to share news about family, personal successes or opinions about what was happening in the news. How well I listened depended upon what I needed to get done before class started. Students arrived between 8:00am and 8:30am and would get together around someone's table to talk. I would listen to these conversations while I worked at my desk. Many comments that they shared were hurtful to other classmates. Sometimes we would use half of our Science class, attempting to correct behavior through discussion, but only a few students participated in the conversation.

I organized activities for my students at least once a week and I seldom enjoyed the results. Unlike the morning meeting activities, my games would take the whole period. Many times students would not work well with other students in their group. Hurtful comments were said to students who answered or responded incorrectly. A few students would actively take over the game, while many sat back with bored looks on their faces. Certainly, group unity was lacking in our activities.

News and announcements existed in a different form. At the end of the day I would try to extend my voice over my students to remind them about assignments and special items that were due in the classroom the next day. We would discuss news events if they applied to what was being taught that day. I was never quite sure if the students all heard what had been said.

The components of the morning meeting existed in my classroom in a haphazardly sort of way. These components lacked structure and quality. Therefore I am excited about implementing the Responsive classroom morning meeting this year.

How will I implement the Morning Meeting into my classroom this year?

After a week of Responsive Classroom training, I have many changes in the works for the beginning of school. I am especially looking forward to implementing the morning meetings.

The first thing I am planning to do is rearrange my room. I plan on moving the students' tables around the outside of the room, leaving the center wide open for morning meeting. There will be plenty of room in the center for the chart and for circling up.

The first day of school will begin with a morning meeting. I plan on introducing the morning meeting in the same way that Terrence introduced it to his trainees. One of the first things the students will notice when they enter the classroom will be the colorful morning meeting chart. The chart will have a greeting, news about the chart and an announcement about Responsive Classroom. My activity will ask them a question about their summer that requires a short written answer on the chart. The chart will end with a friendly closure.

Our day will begin differently than in past years. While students are waiting for the group to arrive, I will probably have them create name tags similar to the ones created for our training. Once the group has noticed the chart and everyone has interacted with it, we will begin our morning greeting. I plan on beginning with the basic greeting. Next, we will learn how to share. I will model good questions and comments as well as how to present a share. Maybe, I'll have one volunteer share and we will practice our comment and questions. The activity will follow and I think it will be Bibity, Bibity , Bop, Bop, Bop. Our morning meeting will close with the chart and a prayer. I thought the morning meeting would be an ideal place to incorporate religion since we are a Christian school.

The morning meeting brought twenty-four adults together this week. We started out unsure and hesitant and after only five days we have built friendships and trusting relationships. I know if we stayed together long enough there would be conflicts, but I have faith in the group unity we shared that we would find a way to solve our problems. I can only hope my students, like my experience this week, will discover their value and feel good about who they are in the morning meetings they will share.

-- Anonymous, April 23, 2000

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