Morning Meetings are an engaging way to build a strong sense of community in your classroom. Starting mornings off with everyone together for a common purpose can help students transition into the school day positively. Responsive Classroom Morning Meetings have 4 components: Greeting, Sharing, Group Activity, and Morning Message. Today we are going to expand on those 4 components to include mindfulness and meaning to your Morning Meeting.
First, as a refresher, here are the components of a Morning Meeting. Greeting: students and teachers greet each other by name. Sharing: students share about their lives while those listening have the opportunity to ask questions or thoughtful comments. Group Activity: practice skills (social and academic) in a short, fun group activity that involves everyone. Morning Message: Teacher has written a short message, students read it and are involved in some way (mostly used to introduce what the academic focus for the day is). There are tons of resources on Pinterest for each of these components of a Morning Meeting.
Now that we have the foundational knowledge of what is included in a Morning Meeting, we can add to it! This is where the Magic happens!! Research tells us that mindfulness helps kids regulate behavior and focus on learning. Mindfulness helps to develop self-awareness, self-expression, and self-confidence, while also reducing depression and anxiety. We as educators know that students learn best when they feel safe, comfortable, and relaxed.
In my opinion, Morning Meetings are necessary in classrooms because students social and emotional well being is just as, if not more important than their academic learning. Maslow’s hierarchy shows us that we cannot do anything else if our basic needs are not met first. So therefore, when we make the time to connect with each student and teach them how to connect with each other, we are laying the foundation upon which learning can grow. Students need to know that they are important as a person, not just for what they do and learn, but for who they are!
In order to cement the foundation of connection and value, we must teach students how to see themselves in a positive frame of mind. Affirmations are perfect for this, teaching students that what you say after the words I AM shapes your reality. Starting the day with affirmations builds a students self-confidence and self-awareness. When they affirm aloud that “I am learning more and more everyday!” They stand a little taller and minor set backs don’t seem to be detrimental because the student knows that they continue to learn more everyday. When students affirm aloud “I am a good listener” they in turn will focus on listening in order to bring truth to that statement. We as educators have the power to breath believe or doubt into the mind of the students we are entrusted. When students feel better about themselves, they behave better, and in turn they learn better.
How to include Affirmations into Morning Meeting
Affirmations could just be added as an additional element of your morning meeting. This is how I used them in my classroom, after the activity, but before the morning message, we took time for affirmations. I played classical music on low and the students stood to say their affirmations aloud. This allowed students to calm down from the activity and to be ready to listen and engage with the morning message. If you are looking to incorporate affirmations into your established morning meeting structure, they can become part of your greeting, for example: “Good Morning, I’m Tori and I am an amazing reader!” “Hi Tori, I’m Nick, and I am can solve hard problems!” During Share time, students can affirm each other with their thoughtful comments.
Add Mindfulness to Your Morning Meeting Activity
The Activity during your Morning Meeting could sometimes be yoga poses related to the content you are studying. Sensory Experiences also aid in mindfulness by focusing our senses, students could search through a sensory table or listen to differentiate all the animal sounds they hear in a recording. There are so many ways to add sensory experiences or movement to your Morning Meeting Activity.
Use a Mindful Moment to add closure to your Morning Meeting
I have heard the term Mindful Moment used to mean many things, but the bottom line is to take time for mindfulness. A simple way to add mindfulness to your Morning Meeting is at the end, after the Morning Message. Take 2-5 minutes for students to sit comfortably, close their eyes, and then have them focus on their breathing for 10 deep breaths. These deep breaths, feeling it in your belly, allow us to use our breath to calm our body and our mind. Then talk students through a pretend journey related to the topic of the day introduced in the morning message. This guided imagery develops students imaginations and helps integrate learning with prior knowledge. When students open their eyes, they are excited to get started learning because their brain has had the opportunity to slow down and make learning readily available to them.
I am so excited to hear how you do Morning Meetings in your classroom! Comment below with what you do and/or any things you’ll add in! If you’re looking to makeover your mornings before you leave the house, Join our 7 Days to Better Mornings Challenge, beginning Monday, October 1st!!