Posted in Miscellaneous

Welcome to Morning Meeting!

Many teachers try their best to teach the “whole child”, which means that they teach theDSCN4058 child socially and emotionally, as well as cognitively. One technique that teachers use is called “morning meeting”. It is usually comprises the first 30 minutes of every day. It is a time for the students to build comradery, learn to trust their teacher, and to have fun! There is a standard outline of what comprises a typical morning meeting, but I imagine every morning meeting looking a little bit different, based on the needs of the students.

  • Greeting (Monday only): Children choose a partner, shake their hand, look them in the eye, and say, “Hi, my name is Kristie”, in addition to their answer to a predetermined question, such as “What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?”.
  • Memorization: A self-esteem piece or an American History document is chosen for the children to practice everyday and eventually memorize.
  • Class Business:
    • Vegetables: Discuss something that is good for you, but not necessarily fun. Ex. cleaning up after yourself at centers
    • Dessert: Discuss something that students did well yesterday
    • Medicine: Discuss any problems that need to be fixed for the future. Just like medicine, it can be nasty, but it cures us.
    • Literacy Term: Explain terms such as conflict or cause and effect.
    • Saying: Choose a saying, such as “Whatever you are going to be… be a good one!” and talk about what it means. Help students apply it to their lives.
  • News/Current Events: Talk about things going on in the world and how students feel about them.
  • Share: Students have the opportunity to share something about their lives, if they would like to.
  • Class Cheer: Sometimes the teacher will provide the cheer and sometimes the students can make it up. They all stand and put their hands in the middle to cheer together.

Can you see how this can help students build a sense of community in the classroom and learn to trust each other? I love how students can evaluate how yesterday went and how today will be better. It is a good life lesson that they learn in morning meeting. I have heard of classrooms where morning meeting is something students absolutely treasure! They will be late to math or reading, but never to morning meeting! They enjoy the safe, fun environment that morning meeting provides, where they are never wrong and where they have a voice.

Interns and current teachers, have you held morning meetings in your classroom? Have they improved your classroom community and helped you to teach “the whole child”? How? Future teachers, what are your thoughts about morning meetings? Will you use this idea in your classroom? I would love to hear your thoughts!

(Image from:


Posted in Miscellaneous

“Can I Bring a Gazelle?”

4245731-gazelleFifth graders are pretty funny.  In discussing noise makers to bring for an activity next week one of the girls asked about bringing a gazelle.  Her classmates looked at her quizzically.  Brow furrowed, she continued, “Wait, no, that’s an animal.  Is it called a kazoo?” which was met with a universal chuckle and nod.

I had my first solo teaching experience last week teaching a fifth grade class start to finish.  Given that more than half of these kids have either a cell phone, a social media account, or both, I figured I could treat them more like youth than young children.

So as I was giving them directions, I said something like,  “I think by fifth grade, you don’t need me to dismiss you row by row to get your supplies in an orderly fashion.  I think you can handle it.”  images

Imagine my surprise when my mentor teacher looks up abruptly from her desk and interjects, “Oh no, they can’t handle that.  We have these procedures for the fifth graders.  The little kids don’t break nearly as many supplies as the fifth graders.”

I was flabbergasted and suddenly it was the funniest thing in the world.  My expectations for them were apparently so radically inaccurate.  I couldn’t help but be amused.  Trying, unsuccessfully, to conceal my snickering, I asked, “Really?” with authentic surprise.

Mrs. Dorian answered, “Yes really, look at the looks on their faces right now—they know it’s true.”

So I look at the kids and I’m still trying (and failing) to stop laughing—it’s that self-conscious laugh that says, “This shouldn’t be funny, but it seems so absurd.”  And then I felt bad because I couldn’t tell if the kids were flattered that I thought they were all grown-up and didn’t need the structure and step-by-step directions I gave the younger kids, or if they were embarrassed that Mrs. Dorian called them out.  

I spent the balance of the class period trying to readjust my paradigm for how to manage and interact with 10-year-olds.  Our lesson involved moving with the music to show various musical elements via movement—high vs. low, fast vs. slow, repeated patterns, etc.—so it was pretty active.  During the dancing, one little boy kicked his friend right in front of me.  This time I was shocked but not amused.  I stopped the music and we had a chat about what reasonable fifth grade (or even pre-school behavior) looks like.  After our chat, we resumed and to their credit, they pulled it together and we finished strong.

Wonder by RJ PalacioI recently read the book
Wonder by R.J. Palacio (I highly recommend it!) and it has fueled my ponderings about kids and growing up. The book portrayed a group of fifth graders with all their human interactions—they dealt with bullying issues, they had playdates after school, they did science fair projects—they were normal, multi-dimensional people, just young ones.  The writing was beautiful, the characters were authentic and sincere.  After reading Wonder, I feel like I have a better perspective on kids as people.

The dichotomy of these young people who live in a grown-up world, but act like little kids can be startling.  These kids talk about texting, Facebook, Instagram, and having imgres“boyfriends” while still mixing up their gazelles and kazoos. They live on the line
between childhood and youth.  How can we better understand this line and then help them navigate this transition?