Our daily meeting is by far my most favorite way to start the day. I love sitting down next to my students in a circle. Spending time checking- in and “seeing” each other before we jump into the busy day of learning and work. This special time, each day, allows us to learn about how to be better people and better together. During this time I include plans for character education, executive functioning skills, and team building. Seems like a lot to cram into 30 minutes each day, right? It is. However, I’ve found some ways that help us do all those things and grow a little bit each day.
Structures allow a predictable environment where students can feel safe because they know what to expect each day. Within the comfort of our structure students can take risks, be vulnerable, and build meaningful relationships. Obviously, what I plan for and facilitate within that structure also plays a big part. However, I strongly believe in structures to help students establish a sense of comfort and belonging in the classroom community.
The structure I use for my daily meeting is as follows:
- Opening- including the date, a quote to think about or respond to, a fun fact, etc. Basically something to keep kids busy thinking or chatting while we transition to our meeting place.
- Greeting– each member of the community is greeted by at least 2 other people. My favorite greeting is the “Checked In” greeting.
- Share-this offers a time for students to share their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. The methods for students to share can vary greatly.
- Activity– team building, risk taking, critical thinking are all high on my list when planning activities for our meetings. Sometimes, I just pick a game for fun. Every time we do an activity we debrief. This debrief time allows me to lead students to the learning I hoped the activity would bring about. It also allows students to analyze their experience, set goals, and reflect on their experience.
- Reflection– Speaking of reflections! I always carve out time in our daily meeting to reflect. Sometimes that means reflecting on the activity, but other times it might be reflecting on their academic or character goals, or a class goal.
- Shout Outs– This is a time where we can acknowledge one another. We give appreciations, acknowledgements or shout outs to our classmates. I also leave time here for apologizes. It is important to me that if someone has caused harm to the class they acknowledge their mistake and apologize to the group.
- Message– I like to end the class meeting with a message or written announcements. This would include schedule changes, school events, class goals to work on that day… etc.
2) Planning with a goal in mind
This is what sets my daily meeting apart now in my 13th year of teaching vs. my first years. In those early years I would choose greetings and activities that I thought were fun and that kids would like. I then started to see waysI could teach things like following directions, being kind, and getting to know one another. I noticed that teaching these ideas was much easier to teach in the context of a share or activity in our daily meeting.
When I plan I typically choose a learning goal around a character trait we are working on (Integrity, Honesty, Critical Thinking, Kindness, etc.). I then choose activities, quotes, and shares that center around that goal. This tactic helps students to connect the dots between the different components and make a deeper connection to the learning goal.
3) Don’t Skip It!
I know it seems easy when you’re behind or have a jam packed schedule to just cut the daily meeting. Don’t do it. Let me repeat that. Don’t do it.
When you skip your daily meetings you’re saying something to kids about what you value. If you’re here, reading an education blog, you care about kids and their education… but I also would bet you care about more than just them learning to multiply and cite evidence. You, like me, want kids to be whole people. Balanced, confident, and kind people. When we don’t prioritize the time in our classrooms that provides students the time and space to develop the non-academic parts of their identity we communicate that those parts don’t matter to us.
ALWAYS have the meeting. Make sure kids are greeted and seen. Play a quick game and laugh together.
Virtual vs. In Person
Honestly, I’m doing the same plan. Same structure. Same games and shares. Yes, being virtual I have to get creative with how we share and greet one another. We have to use some tech tools to make things more efficient. But the heart of this practice is the same, use a predictable structure to create a sense of safety and a space where kids feel like they belong. Then, plan for experiences that help kids take risks, build friendships, and think critically.
If you need a set of daily meeting slides that you can use in the physical classroom (I always projected my slides when we were in person) OR virtual… I’ve got you. Find them on my TeachersPayTeachers shop. If you use them I’d LOVE for you to share by tagging me @LocalLearnersandCo
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