Morning Meetings provide students a chance to check in with a peer group to get their day started. This is an important beginning for students so they can individually be greeted by their teachers and every adult is making contact with every child in the building. It gives students a chance to feel significant. I like the use of meetings daily, when done just once or twice a week, we miss opportunities to connect when something important may need to be shared.

The ROSE and THORN check in I recently read about in EDUTOPIA suggests that each child come to morning meeting ready to state “one rose and one thorn. I share mine too. The whole process takes five minutes or less. Yet though this fast activity may seem simple, the rose and thorn check-in is an essential part of my classroom community-building.” It helps me the teacher remember that just like me, kids come to school with “stuff”…baggage. And just like me, they are humans that have good and bad days.

Don’t confuse Morning Meetings with Check Ins and Check Outs, a strategy used as a behavior intervention. The Morning Meeting check in is different. It doesn’t target one type of child, but rather it sets a time aside daily for authentic talk for ALL our children. But be careful, scripted meetings are less than effective. Teachers with a script are, more often than not, doing a cold read of a lesson plan that someone else has written. This creates a less than genuine interest in the time, space, or lesson and most importantly the children involved.

Morning Meeting is a time to establish trust and set the tone for respecting all voices. It establishes a safe place for comfort and empathy. Everyone greets each other by name. They participate in an ice breaker or STEM activity and the teacher closes with a quote or message of the day.

Most of all, students can become self-directed during this time, if the teacher is willing to give ownership of the meeting back to the students who participate.