Building Relationships: Morning Meeting

I have started my school day in a variety of ways over the years, but have been happiest (as, I think, have my students) since I’ve begun the say with choice time.  Sometimes it’s a choice of reading or writing, often it includes an “easel question” where kiddos start with a warm-up to get them thinking, but always they have about a half-hour or so to ease into their day.  Adults don’t start work the second the enter the office, and so neither should kids!

Aside from kids being allowed to ease into the day and spend time with their friends, I am also able to spend time with them in an informal way.  We can chat about the night before, what has happened before school, what they had for breakfast, whatever.

But aside from choice time, the best thing we’ve started doing in our class every morning as the first “official” thing of our day is how we run our morning meeting circle (and yes, I know there is an “official” way to do morning meeting, and this is not exactly that.  It’s just a meeting we have in the morning. 🙂 )

Before I go any further, I need to make sure I tell you about Zones of Regulation.  There are different zones–of different colors to delineate different feelings–and kids learn what each one means and also what to do to move from one zone to another.  Everyone (even adults) moves naturally between zones, which is in itself no big deal, but really being in the GREEN ZONE is the goal.  At the start of our year, we put together this chart after much work with books and conversation and role play to help us really understand what it was all about.  This hangs in our room, and we use it every day!!

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So now to how this connects to our morning meeting circle.  After choice time clean up, we meet in a circle on our rainbow rug.  We pull over our talking piece (our phonics buddy, Rasheed), and get started.  Beginning with our “person in charge”, kiddos go around the circle and tell their classmates what zone they are currently in.  At this point that’s all we share–no reasons yet.  On the second time around the circle, students have the choice of either telling more about their own zone color, or asking someone else in the circle about their color.

The very first time we did this, it took until we got halfway around the circle for someone to ask another friend about their color (rather than tell their own story).  As we’ve gone on, it’s been great to watch how many more (and which different kiddos) have started asking their friends about how they’re doing.  Often a kiddo will ask me, and always by the end of the circle we know how everyone is feeling as we start our day.

I’ve noticed how much more fully we can support each other when we know exactly what kind of morning they’ve had before they got to school.  Things come out in our circle that help us understand how to relate to our friends, things that they probably wouldn’t have shared otherwise.  Often we hear about a rushed morning that put someone in the yellow zone, or about how a friend is sad and in the blue zone because their parent is traveling and they miss them.  With this information, it’s the job of the rest of us to help those friends find a way back to the green zone.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how kids are becoming more aware of their actual feelings and being honest about how they are truly feeling.  We’ve had kiddos on both ends of the spectrum–those who always say they’re green (even if they aren’t) and some who always claim to be yellow–or even red–but really aren’t.  It surprised me how uncomfortable some friends were with being ok; being in the green zone seemed like a place they were not used to being and so had to be convinced that it was a good thing.  Being able to talk about our feelings and start the day together in this way also just helps us share our lives; often the reason we’re “green” is because of happy things that have happened or things we’re looking forward to.  We’re a part of each others’ lives from the very beginning. 🙂

How do you start your morning? What does Morning Meeting look like in your classroom?  If you’re a parent, what has your first grader told you about our opening circle?  What is their favorite part? Please leave us a comment with your thoughts!

 

Jokes of the Day–Week of February 9-13, 2015

Ok, so this may not end up being a weekly thing like math warm-ups, and it might not be anything that people even want to read, but for those that do–here you go! Last week I FINALLY got to participate in #1stchat on Twitter.  I have wanted to “attend” all year, but the timing had proven to be a really hard one for me to be at my computer (it’s 7 CT on Sunday nights–bedtime!!).  For whatever reason, it worked out for me and boy was I SUPER excited to have been able to learn and grow with my #1stchat friends!  The topics were many, but one theme that came up was Morning Meeting and how we use this tool to set the stage for a positive learning day.  One thing I shared was the in our class we do a joke of the day.  It is just a part of the morning welcome screen I have up on the ActivBoard when my firsties come in, and has easily become part of the routine.

Screen Shot 2015-02-10 at 4.33.47 PM(the punchline is under that rectangle and so I just move it when we’re ready to see the answer!)

I started this earlier this fall after reading much about how important laughter and joy are in the classroom.  I was working on my school improvement project to complete my Masters’ program; the theme was encouraging grit, perseverance and engagement in the classroom.  We’ve found that starting with a good laugh (and then continuing that on throughout the day) is good medicine for all!  So…since many seemed interested in the idea, I figured I’d share what we’re doing in Rm. 202, hoping it would help someone else!  Whether you start this in your classroom–or your house, for that matter!–or not, I appreciate your reading my journey. 🙂

Before I even start, I feel like I should say that most of these jokes are not new, nor or they necessarily funny (I teach 1st graders, remember–their humor is different than most!).  I get most of my jokes from jokesbykids.com, which is a huge database of kid-friendly riddles, knock-knock jokes and other funny things, but also so from my own kids (who are 4 and 7), or from books we’re reading (and since I started writing this post, I’ve gotten a tip to try out Ellen’s classic jokes–thanks for the recommendation, @amerced!).  I am not, nor will I ever be, funny enough to write any of my own. I’ll leave that job to someone more qualified than I!

Monday

What does a teddy bear eat?

Nothing! It’s already stuffed! 

(this one is courtesy of my daughter, Allison–she learned it at school and thinks it’s SUPER funny!!)

Tuesday

What goes up when the rain comes down?

Umbrellas!

(I have seen this one on jokesbykids, but also from Allie’s school.  Just for the record, my friends DID NOT think this was funny!  Their answers were much better, like FLOODS and RAINBOWS!  So, buyer beware–might not be 1st grade worthy material. LOL)

Wednesday

What’s brown, hairy and wears sunglasses?

A coconut on vacation!

(had to try out the Ellen tip–that’s a pretty good one for kids, I’d say!  Well, except that half of them said, “That’s not funny…”  Tough crowd.  We had a conversation about opinions and how jokes are subjective.)

Thursday

What’s a frog’s favorite soda?

Croak-a-Cola!

(ok…so I had to explain this one, too!  Man, I guess I need to get better at my joke choices.)

Do you have a funny joke to share with my students?  Perhaps if I used more that were FROM kids, the kids in Rm. 202 would think there were funnier (because apparently the adults who write jokes have no senses of humor)….I’ll keep trying either way. 🙂

We were out of school for a PD day on Friday, so this week there were only 4 jokes.  I’m really loving the ones from Ellen.  There are about 250 of them on there, so it looks like I have at least 2 school years’ worth to work through!  Happy joke telling! 🙂