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August 30, 2016

6 Ways to Get Your Morning Meeting Routine Started

Morning Meeting. It's the backbone of a rich classroom community. When possible, start it on Day 1 - before all the supplies are put away - before that first read aloud - before the icebreaker games - you won't regret it. If Morning Meeting is new to you and the school year has already started, it's NOT too late! Give your kids the chance to get to know each other better and learn some basics about social interaction. Morning Meeting, like greeting students at the door, creates a cultural shift in the classroom. You'll facilitate friendships, respect and ultimately working together as a team. This, in turn, makes teaching academic content a much easier and effective process. "The way to a child's head is through their heart."

Here are six ways to get your Morning Meeting routine started:

1. Begin with just passing the Greeting. When that is perfected, add on one of the other elements - Sharing, Activity or Message. Some years my kiddos are ready to move on the next day. Some years it takes a couple of days but don't rush it. Wait to add on until kids have mastered the procedure. You'll reap the benefits later.

2. Tell people where to sit. At the beginning I write each child's name on a card and place them in a circle on the floor. Students find their card and sit there. This prevents jostling, saving places and hurt feelings those first few days. Once kids know what a Meeting circle should look like, ask them to form it on their own. Not as easy as it sounds...just sayin'..... Typically their first attempt will be a very oddly-shaped, sort-of-brokenish oval. Allow them time to scootch back and forth to make a 'real' circle. Notice how the leaders (and perfectionists) step up for this task! When kids begin taking ownership of the circle, friends will sit next to friends - but the goal is to get to know everyone. Every single day I do a couple of quick switches to keep things fresh. "I want Emma and Jaylen to switch spots."

3. Actively teach how to ask someone their name. Most elementary age kids will freeze if they're expected to greet someone and they don't know their new friend's name. It brings the Meeting to a complete halt. Be proactive and teach it before passing the Greeting. "Let's pretend I don't know my friend's name. This is what I'll do. I'll lean over and quietly say "I forgot your name." Watch me do this now." Do the process with kids sitting on both sides of you. Now open it to the group. "What did you notice I did when I didn't know my friend's name?" Talk through the process then tell the kids to make sure they know the name of the friend on each side of them. Quickly review the expectation for the first several days.

4. Model correct voice volume and eye contact. Morning Meeting requires kids to talk to each other and in front of a group. Everyone needs to be heard and involved. "Laila. I couldn't hear your voice when you greeted Tawnya. A little louder please. Try it again." Lots of smiling from you.

5. Don't let any expectation slide. Stop and correct as needed. Keep it fast and specific. Kids running across the room during the Activity? "Michelle, we walk when playing Find your Family. Go back and I'll watch you walk." Does a student raise their hand during Sharing to tell their own story - instead of asking a question? "Colton, this is Sharing time. Do you have a question for Michael?" Any correction should be followed up with a genuine smile and a quiet, "nicely done!"





6. Highlight the great things you saw happening. Regardless of how disjointed or rocky the first Meeting was, always end with a positive, upbeat evaluation. "This was a really great Morning Meeting my friends. I noticed everyone's eyes following the greeting around the circle. We asked questions before beginning the Activity so we knew what to do. When correcting the Message we explained our thinking using the word 'because'. Nice job today!"


A collection of ready to go Morning Meeting Greetings and 2 Minute Group Activities keep the Morning Meeting interesting and fresh throughout the year.



Each has a simple design and an easy to read font. As needed, there are simple implementation instructions and photographs too. Copy the Greetings and Activities. Laminate for durability. Put a hole in the corner so you can hang them on a ring for easy reference. Looking for more organization and support? Check out this Morning Meeting Bundle.

Looking to get more insight on crafting a daily Morning Message? Check out this post.

Best of luck starting your Morning Meeting Routine. Go slow and don't give up. It will transform your classroom culture.

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