Feeling a sense of community is important for almost anyone. Even now, in college, the students in the Elementary Education Program at Utah Valley University are in cohorts. Why? To help us find others who we have common interests with, and who can help us learn and grow into great teachers. Because being in an environment where we feel safe as well as feeling a sense of belonging is important. Developing a classroom community for elementary students is imperative.
A student who feels comfortable in the classroom will be able to learn and grow because they will not be afraid to make mistakes in front of others, and they will learn to appreciate the opinions of others. The sooner a child learns to work with and value others, the better. This not only benefits a person during their school years, but is an important part of success later in life. One tool we have learned about this semester to improve classroom community is morning meetings.
Though I have not personally seen an elementary classroom morning meeting in action, the evidence of its success that I have seen and heard from our guest speaker, Sylvia Allan, as well as what I have read in our text books and researched online, has convinced me to try morning meetings in my own classroom. Our morning meeting packet states that morning meetings build a classroom community, which may improve student test scores. That is great reason to try them. Earlier in the semester when we were introduced to morning meetings, I was so excited.
My goal as a teacher has always been to value every student. I was thrilled to have been given a tool that would do just that. My focus for morning meetings will be to help each child in my classroom realize how important and irreplaceable they are. Morning meetings will help to create an atmosphere of trust, which is essential for optimal student learning. The responsive classroom. org states that morning meetings “Build community, increase student investment, and improve academic and social skills. ” That is exactly what I hope to do with them.
Using the morning meeting tool in our own college classroom has been an effective tool for me as a student. Because I transferred from another cohort this semester, I did not know anyone else in our cohort. Participating in morning meeting has given me the opportunity to learn more about the other people in our class. Learning about the similarities I share with these people has allowed me to make connections with some of the students in my class, and has made me feel more comfortable and more willing to participate.
I plan to use the morning meeting format as it is presented in the morning meeting packet with a few modifications. The greeting, sharing, group activity, and news and announcements portions are all important for the children to get to know one another and feel comfortable in the classroom. However, I will probably just write the news and announcements on the board and briefly go over it with the class because I plan to be teaching older grades. I would also like to add memorization of a poem each day, as well as a fun saying a la Silvia Allan.
I like these ideas because it gives me the opportunity to prove to my principal that morning meetings are not only effective in building a classroom community, they are academic as well. I plan to initiate full morning meetings into my classroom on the first day of school. Because I have not actually used them in an elementary classroom setting yet, I am not sure if I will do every component every day. For example, the greeting may have to be on Mondays only due to time constraints. I also may not do a group activity every day.
I may use this time as an opportunity to work on a concept I noticed the entire class had a hard time with. For example, if most of the class had a difficult time learning a math concept the day before, I would have a student with a good understanding of the concept explain it to the class while we are in morning meeting while the positive classroom community juice is flowing. Hopefully, the students who are having a difficult time with the concept will feel less threatened because we are working on the concept during morning meeting time, not math time. So how does a classroom community lead to differentiation in the classroom?
Having a classroom where students feel accepted and accepting allows the teacher to be able to make accommodations for students who need it because the rest of the class understands why they need it. One of my favorite “Hallmarks of a Differentiated Classroom” that describes this in detail is “shared responsibility for the classroom between teacher and students, in the goal of making it work for everyone”. When students feel comfortable in the classroom and care about their fellow classmates, students are willing to share their strengths with the rest of the class for the betterment of others.
They also realize their limits and are willing to strengthen them by learning from other students. A classroom community is a very important part of a successful classroom. It gives students a place where they feel comfortable and are not afraid to make mistakes. Students who feel comfortable in the classroom are more willing to make mistakes and learn from them, thus giving them a better opportunity to achieve their full potential. I am excited to use morning meetings in my classroom to build a successful classroom community.