Build Classroom Community

 

ORIGINAL - Farmhouse Brights Burlap & Wood Morning Meeting Slides (11)

Do you do Responsive Classroom or Morning Meetings in your school or classroom?  If so, you know that spending 15-20 minutes a day sharing thoughts and “playing” with your students can be your most successful relationship building moment of the day.

My students and I learn more about each other and build the strongest community bonds during our Morning Meeting time.  In the time that most teachers would be transitioning from breakfast/morning work to “class” time, we are sharing our thoughts, writing songs together, completing mini-stem challenges, playing teamwork building games, solving critical thinking puzzles, character building, and learning about each other’s strengths and unique personalities in ways that just can’t happen during any other class time.

To make my morning meetings easier to plan and keep routine, I use a Google slides presentation.   Having this routine has allowed me to share these with my substitutes, collaborative teachers and students so that meetings can still run smoothly when I’m out.  Because my students are used to seeing the same layout each day, I can often choose a student to lead the meeting on the days that I’m out.  For those teachers who know what it’s like trying to explain a morning meeting to a substitute on paper, you know that the ability to have a student run your meeting instead is amazing!  (Of course, I teach 4th graders who are capable of leading this and reading the presentation, but I’m sure this is possible of some of the younger grades also!)

If you want to pick up one of my Editable Morning Meeting Slides, you can get it at Teaching and Learning in Mrs Gentry’s Class on Teachers Pay Teachers.

thanks for reading!

The Journey Begins

Black and White Classroom Quote Social Media GraphicThanks for joining me!  It’s spring break at my school and with the little bit of “free time” from working, I’ve finally found the courage to do something I’ve wanted to do for a LONG time … MY FIRST POST!

In my school we are in crunch time for state testing.  I’ve been in a “testing” grade for three years now, and wow, the amount of stress on the teachers and students is CRAZY.  I’ve been teaching for over 12 years now.  I spent 9 years in a second grade classroom and the difference in how you get to spend the end of the year with your students is SO UNFAIR.  So … what does a teacher do?  I make every possible effort to keep my students as stress-free as possible.  I encourage, praise, practice (practice, practice, practice … I’ll come back to that), and tell my students the truth about what to expect and what they need to do to meet their goals (individually, one student at a time, of course).  Most of all, I tell my students that we are in this together and that I believe in them, DAILY.

Let me back up a little.  It’s my philosophy that every lesson, assignment, and task should be meaningful.  Every decision I make as a teacher counts and must help my students meet their yearly goals, and some of my own a long the way.  There’s a lot to keep in mind.  For example, does the lesson/task require higher level thinking, how can it be differentiated to meet all students’ needs, is it doable within the time-limits as set by the daily schedule and pacing guide, what’s the next step and how does it fit into the process towards mastery, is it engaging (allow for choice, creativity, etc.)?  These questions, and more, drive the decisions I make from day one to the end of the year.  This includes test prep, which we’ve been working on, in some way or another, for the entire year if I’m honest.  It’s my belief that students must feel safe and cared for when they are in the classroom in order to be successful academically.  For that reason, I work hard, daily, to promote respect and kindness.  One of my own goals each year is to create a classroom family, in which students can speak honestly with me and their peers, and everyone feels safe to be themselves.  We spend time every morning getting to know each other with a Morning Meeting.  My school started Responsive Classroom training last year and I use the ideas to help encourage my students to accept and appreciate their own unique qualities and each other’s.  I take the time to show my students that I love and respect them (no matter what).  I do these things in front of the other students, and in effect, my students learn to love and care for each other like family and feel safe to be themselves, mistakes and all.  Success starts here.

Back to spring break.  We all needed it.  We’ve been working really hard, and even though it’s early April in VA (and the weather can’t decide if it should be slightly warm or freezing), we all needed time to rest and play in the sun (or clouds/rain depending on the day) and NOT think about testing.  On Monday, we’ll meet back refreshed, optimistic, and ready to continue challenging ourselves to meet and exceed our goals and expectations.

I’ll share more about test prep in my classroom when I get back to school:)  For now, it’s time to watch a movie and snuggle with my kiddos.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton