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Students participate in creating a class mission statement.

We Are All Connected

Apr 19, 2019 2019-04-19

By Laura Chang

“Ding, Ding, Ding.” The sound of the bell signals morning meeting—a great start to each day. A strong sense of community is built, and it sets students up for social and academic success. Every morning, students and teachers gather together in a circle for 10 to 20 minutes and purposefully interact with each other.

To begin this meeting, students greet one another by name. This creates a welcoming environment along with an atmosphere of politeness. Not only are the important social skills of making eye contact and shaking hands reinforced, but students also develop a sense of community when they interact with their peers in this way. Songs, chants, or poems are then recited in unison. In my classroom, we have a daily repertoire. First, we sing our school song together. This tradition was put into place to instill a sense of pride in our school and community. After that, students recite a chant about working hard and doing their best.

Next, students chant a piece from Rita Pearson’s Every Kid Needs A Champion Ted Talk. These powerful words set the tone for the day and remind each student of their importance in our classroom. Early in the school year, we create a class mission statement together. This mission statement is used in place of a list of rules in our classroom. We review it throughout the day as needed, but also read our mission statement out loud during our classroom meeting. There is great value when students play an active role in writing a class mission statement and have ownership over their environment.

enlist student help in creating a classroom mission statement

Sharing is the next critical component of an effective morning meeting. At this time, students share information about important events in their lives. As the teacher, I make sure to model appropriate empathetic responses and ask clarifying questions. I do this at first to demonstrate how to be a respectful and effective listener. Eventually, I gradually release this responsibility to the students when I see them begin to respond in this way to one another without teacher assistance.

The time that a teacher invests in morning meeting will pay dividends throughout the day. Every child plays a vital role in this session, regardless of academic ability. Every child feels like they are a part of the bigger classroom community. When children feel loved and cared for during the daily routine of a morning meeting, it removes obstacles that prevent them from feeling engaged at school. It creates a safe space for classmates to take care of one another and to do their best learning. When we are all connected, learners can thrive. It also makes it easier for the community to continue to grow stronger.

Laura Chang is entering her nineteenth year of teaching at Sunset Lake Elementary in the Vicksburg Community Schools where she currently teaches math and reading to kindergarten through fifth grade learners in an intervention setting. Previously, she taught pre-K, Kindergarten, first/second grade multi age, second grade, third grade and has worked as an instructional consultant and academic coach. Laura was named 2019 Michigan Teacher of the Year and has had the opportunity to work with students, educators and education stakeholders across the nation this year. She serves as a mentor coach and district technology integration leader. She also teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses in the Special Education and Literacy Studies department at Western Michigan University. Laura would love to connect on Twitter @VCSchang.


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Erica Boomsma
Apr 26, 2019 at 2:27:20 pm

This is fantastic! You are a wonderful teacher!

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