I can’t get enough of this video. “Morning Meetings,” was reposted by a fellow parent of public school students/graduates, who was also my houseparent in boarding school. (OK, so perhaps it’s tied with “https://www.youtube.com/embed/p6ZojleXMn4” target=”_blank”>You do NOT understand weddings. At ALL.” because JoJo rules the world, apparently.)
My former houseparent posted the video with a note about her personal appreciation for the work the teachers do at Symonds Elementary, in Keene, NH. I poked around on their website and found descriptions in the About link, that spoke of encouragement and inclusion for all children—plus something called “the integrated special education Emotional Disabilities Collaborative Program.” This is, obviously, a special place.
Once I clicked on the Edutopia video, I saw that it was a sort of souped-up “circle time,” reminiscent of Pre-K, K and 1st classes. Only this format engaged students in social and emotional practices that are designed to redirect kids’ focus toward kindness and support, cooperation and community. Reference was made to including the entire class on the sharpening of social, emotional and behavioral skills, and not just those students with specific needs in those areas. Brilliant—because I don’t know a single kid who couldn’t stand to have those skills sharpened.
The timing—and the fact of it coming from a boarding school connection—gave me a minute’s pause. See, on Sunday night, we sat at the dinner table of dear friends, and I made an argument for morning meetings in public school, based on the experience I—and two other adults among us—had in private school.
“We had a morning meeting at Emma Willard—it was called Morning Reports,” I offered. “It was the single best community-builder, because not everyone lived in the dorms. You got to connect up with your day student pals, and girls from other dorm halls, other grades. The head of student government made announcements, called on club presidents to make their announcements, invited faculty to speak. But it connected us, as a whole, every single day.”
Of course you can’t necessarily copy a practice from private to public and expect it to take off. Emma Willard, for instance has 350 students across four grades. That isn’t even a whole grade in the local (smallish) high school.
But I think there’s room to expand the concept across all grades. I think that’s what the middle school Advisory period attempts to do. And I know the teachers in all grades at our neighborhood school have some time devoted to the practice, even if the format is different. Heck, I’m trying to figure out a way to use some of the ideas from this video in my fourth grade classroom at the religious school class I teach for two hours a week in my synagogue. Because, at bottom, that’s my whole reason for being there—to be a brick in the building of a community.
Watch the video, and tell me what you think—does your school offer a Morning Meeting, either by class, by grade, or all-school? What works? What doesn’t?
“At Symonds Elementary, teachers use morning meetings to develop valuable social-emotional skills, create a culture of respect and trust, and prepare students to learn.”