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- Middle School
There are so many ideas circulating on the concept of classroom meetings. The ideas behind the purpose range from meeting the social and emotional needs of the student to covering the daily agenda of classroom activities. However, it's important to remember that a classroom meeting should have the power to make students feel welcome, safe, and their voice heard.
When I first heard about the advantages of a classroom meeting I almost couldn’t believe it. In my teaching program, professors would highlight all these wonderful things that occur as a result of this daily practice. I thought, “who has time to do all that?” All educators are in a race to teach specific standards and to do their best in preparing students for assessments, their next grade level, as well as college and career aspirations. Last year, I had a challenging class and realized that as a whole my student’s basic needs were not met outside the classroom. Trauma was pouring into my classroom daily when I remembered those college lectures and decided I needed to do whatever was necessary to carve out time for a classroom meeting.
I gave myself permission to use 30 minutes every Wednesday to conduct morning meetings. I didn’t have a specific classroom meeting procedure to follow or even a clue on how to proceed. Initially, I decided to focus on one question. I gave them a survey asking: do you feel respected and safe at school?
Many students shared the same concern - their perspectives on lack of respect in their lives. I had worked hard to establish strong, trustworthy relationships with my students, but I couldn’t control what happened outside of my classroom. I found, more often than not, that I was having to de-escalate student situations during valuable academic time.
Over the course of the school year these meetings helped my students reflect on improving their individual strengths in relationships, socially, emotionally, and academically. Needless to say I became a classroom meeting believer!
|Establishes Community||Effective Classroom Management||Develop Responsive Teaching|
These three reasons motivate me to always use the ever evolving model of a class meeting. My only advice is to shape the meeting to best fit the needs of your students. I can’t emphasize enough that it is worth the time you’ll invest in customizing the process. True, you may have to borrow time away from an academic subject. However, as soon as you discover what format works for your students, the feedback you will receive will be invaluable to your teaching. Additionally, the use of meetings in Washington state connects appropriately with the social and emotional learning standards.
There still isn’t a prescribed format that you will find, but I hope the sources below will help guide you in creating the best classroom meeting for your students. I challenge all educators to give the classroom meeting a try.