Class room meetings do provide a perfect forum for the establishment of a conducive learning environment in the school scenario. It does give the learners a perfect environment for them to practice their communication and socialization skills which are in cooperated in the teaching curriculum. The class meetings are meant to serve some purposes which are listed below. Purpose of the class meetings: The main purpose or major aim for class meetings is to try and resolve some key discipline problems that are encountered in the learning environment.
The class meetings do therefore create the required environment for the teacher and learners to work together in trying to resolve some problems that are always encountered in the school scenario for example discipline problems whereby learners harass other learners in class or during play time, making noise that disturbs the learning environment negatively and other incidents. Through the class meetings, an approach is created whereby the teacher and the learners try to resolve the first few incidents of misbehavior before they do get out of hand.
An example of a minor conflict that can get out of hand and become a major full scale discipline problem is the case whereby a given learner is constantly being bullied by other learners who happen to have bigger and stronger bodies as compared to him/her. If this kind of vice continues for some time then it is likely to lead that particular learner to a state of being depressed and feeling unwanted in that environment. Once the learner enters the state of being depressed then he/she is likely to start using drugs to escape the state of depression and sometimes it can lead the learner to dropping out of school.
Therefore, when a meeting is held in the class, it serves a purpose of trying to guide and counsel the learners to avoid such vices and treat each other fairly with some equity in order to create a more conducive environment for learning. The class meetings do also serve a purpose of facilitating and creating a positive relationship in the learning environment. The meetings provide an opportunity for the learners and the teachers to be able to build some form of trust, respect and confidence in each other which leads to the creation of a warm and caring environment.
The confidence created by the class meetings leads to the creation of an environment that is full of mutual understanding thereby enabling all the class members to make statements or state opinions freely without feeling unsecure. Classroom meetings do develop closer relationships between the learners and even between the learners and their teachers. This closer relationships come when the learners are discussing issues or are having conversations in a relaxed manner whereby they do talk of where they come from, about their families and there general background.
This relationships end up creating a class that is manageable since the involved parties do get to know and understand each other accordingly. A good example is when a teacher holds a meeting with her kindergarten learners; at first the children are not so free with the teacher. They tend to create and keep a certain distance between them and the teacher. A teacher may ask them to respond to some question but they choose to be quiet and not that they do not know the response, but they could not be free with the teacher.
But if she holds some meetings with them whereby she addresses them warmly then she is bound to break the communication barrier between her and the young learners. This ends up creating a relationship of mutual benefit between the learners and the teacher. (Marshal 2001). Through class meetings, learners do acquire important development skills. The skills include the ability to listen attentively and to have an understanding of each other.
As the class meetings go on, learners discover that if they do not pay attention or listen carefully and attentively to what the others are saying, then they are meant to lose some key interesting points and some humorous contributions. ( Marshall 2001). Class meetings also have a purpose in enabling the learners to develop other skill for example reflecting listening whereby a learner is supposed to paraphrase what he/she had heard earlier on from a classmate. This skill enables the learner to listen with some form of understanding.
A reflective dialogue also enables the learner to develop a clear and concise speech which is an important element in the art of communication. It enables the learner to know that if there speech is not clear then there point may not be understood properly or clearly and therefore they won’t be able to make their point or view known (Marshall 2001). Learners gain skills that enable them to be team players. When they are holding discussions in the class meetings, the various opinions that they give from their point of view and contributions that they make helps them in cultivating the team spirits. Objectives of class meetings.
Classroom meetings do have some objectives that serve to improve the life of the learners and teachers in the learning environment. The objectives are meant to: Improve the general communication skills of the learners. The communication skills include the listening and speaking skills. When the learners are participating in the discussion of issues that affect them in school they not only nurture their speaking skills but also their listening skills which are an integral component in the learning environment. The listening skills enable the learners to pay close attention to what the others in class are trying to communicate.
Provide opportunities for the learners to develop skills for insightful, creative and critical speaking (Marshall 2001). Classroom meetings provide a platform that enables learners to practice their speaking skills. When the learners are engaged in debates during the class meetings or when they are asked by the teacher to give their own views on some given issues, it does give them that opportunity that enables them to improve and even cultivate better speaking skills. Their creativity is improved when they are asked to give solutions and provide a way forward for some critical issues that affect their well-being in school.
Create an opportunity for the learners to interact respectfully and promote their team work spirit. The interaction with each other in class meetings enables the learners to understand each other from all perspectives. Team work spirit enables them to be team players and to work together in resolving any problems and miss-understandings that they face not only in school but also in the outside world also where they meet bigger and tougher challenges. Foster social skills for example reducing shyness (Marshall 2001).
Classroom meetings enable learners to interact positively through participating in conversations and debates in class which enable them to overcome their shyness as they become more confident in holding discussions. The more the learners participate in class meetings, the more they overcome their shyness. Classroom meetings build a trusting and caring relationship between the learner and the teacher. When the teacher holds a meeting to discuss with the learner issues that do affect them in a friendly way them the relationship between the teacher and the learner is bound to improve.
The learners will free being with that teacher which is a necessary requirement for the learning process to be more effective. The learners will be free to ask the teacher any question which they do not understand and in turn the teacher will do what is required of him/her professionally. Agenda of classroom meetings. Agenda, from the view of class meetings is a term meant to refer to the different matters that affect the learners and are meant to be solved during meetings through giving suggestions, discussing them or using any other appropriate way to solve them.
Class meetings are designed in such a way that they try to improve the learning environment and change it positively beginning with the students themselves. Teachers have their own agendas for classroom, for example the teachers use the meetings to gain some instructional objectives from the learners (Marshall 2001). Instructional objectives are obtained when the teacher asks the learners questions that pertain the class meeting or the lessons held in class. For example the teacher can ask the learners to give suggestions on how they could make the next lesson better than the present one.
It gives the learners the opportunity to reflect in their minds and try to give suggestions that will help improve the next lesson. This kind of reflection also helps those kids who easily switch of from the current events to other ones that are not part of the class meetings. When they are asked to give suggestion concerning the betterment of the meeting then they are likely to linger on when that lesson or meeting is held since they gave a suggestion concerning it. Teachers can also have other agendas like setting up the tone of a class for learning.
This is particularly an important agenda especially when a given class is a very difficult class to manage for example a class that is full of mischief from the learners. If a class meeting is held at the beginning of the learning process, then the teacher might be successful in implementing some rules that will be used through the learning exercise and set the right tone for the learning process from the beginning of that session to the very end (Marshall 2001). Having Class meetings can also have agendas that involve learners discussing on the right approach for them to use in doing their assignments and in reviewing them.
For example they can discuss whether it is appropriate for them to hold discussions as a whole class in order to do review an assignment that they had done earlier on or it will be appropriate for them to do the assignments in smaller groups or it will be more appropriate for them to do them individually through research. Such an agenda enables the learners to find a better way of handling their class work, a way that will benefit them more. They also get to give reasons why they think a given approach will benefit them more than the other approaches.
Also in the class meeting agenda, the way of dealing with minor problems should be spoken about or discussed. Dealing with class room misbehaviors should be an agenda. In some cases, especially when dealing with young learners of lower classes, a teacher gets complaints like “teacher this one is squeezing my hand”. Both the learners and the teacher should agree on what to do during such incidents. When the learners decide for themselves, it becomes a sure way of controlling some vices in the class room as they will be conscious of what they will be doing in class and will obviously try as much as possible to avoid getting into trouble.
Formulating questions. The purpose, objectives and goals of the meeting should be clear to the teacher in order to enable him/her to formulate the right kind of questions that will enable him/her to achieve all the goals of the meetings. The teacher must formulate open ended questions. Open ended questions invite a discussion and are the best when holding a class meeting as they require more than just an answer. They let the learners to give explanations as to why they feel as they feel. (Marshall 2001). Closed ended questions are those that require simple answers only. They do not elicit any explanations from the learners.
They require a yes or no answer. Such questions should be avoided at all times. They do not even play a simple role of nurturing the creativity of the learners. The open ended questions help a lot in improving the creativity of the learners as they give room for the learners to think widely and try to come up with the right solutions or answer to a given problem. The teacher should therefore formulate open-ended questions. An example of open ended questions is a question that begins with “Why? ” or “How? ”. This way, a justification is given by the student and at the end does show that the student did do some thinking or reasoning.
The teacher should also formulate questions that seek for clarification. A learner should try to explain the reasons why they chose on a given answer. In other words, the learner should not only give a flat answer but also explain that answer and try to clarify it more. Some learners have a tendency of letting their minds wonder far off from the events that are currently taking place in class and once they are asked to answer a given question they ask their neighbors in class and give an answer that serves the purpose of redeeming them from some shame.
If a teacher formulates questions that seek clarification then the learner’s attention will most likely be captured to end of the meeting. Length, time and frequency Length, time and frequency of a class meeting depends on the class and age of the learners, the nature of that group, the kind of interests that they have during the meetings and the type or nature of topic that is being discussed. Meetings for young children, for example those in kindergarten should be planned and held for around ten minutes while the one for older learners i. e. those in higher classes can be held for a longer time, about twenty minutes. (Marshall 2001).
The meetings should always be held at the same time as planned or as in schedule. For example, some teachers do hold meetings before the class breaks for lunch, at the end of the period or when the day ends. Teachers, who handle middle and high school classes, hold meetings at the beginning of every class in order to discuss how the learners are faring on and to check on the progress of the class projects. These meetings that are held at the beginning of the class in co-operate the learners into the planning process which leads to increase in the learning processes even though only a few minutes are spared for a discussion.
According to Marshall, the elementary classes should hold meetings on a daily basis as a way of keeping them in track. It checks on their behavior and if they are doing what they are supposed to do in school. Marshall also argues that if the middle and high school classes do not hold meetings on a regular basis then they will be depriving themselves of the so many advantages that do come with the meetings when they are held regularly. Physical environment. The physical environment should be created in a satisfactory manner.
The kind of physical environment created should guarantee the meeting some quality. For example if a teacher decides to create a circle or to adopt a circle format for the meeting, then it is obvious that the meeting will have a high quality attached to it since the learners see each other face to face and are therefore able to read each other’s expressions as well as hear the words that are being spoken in a better way as compared to them being seated in rows and facing the teacher whereby the learners won’t be able to see the ones who are contributing from the back of the class (Marshall 2001)
When the learners are seated in rows, they will squirm around to see the person contributing from the back. This leads to lack of concentration that is a necessity in the discussion. Therefore, teachers should adopt an environment that is more effective for the discussion to be of a greater success. A circle format for the sitting arrangement is the best for holding class meetings. Furniture. Desks are a barrier to open discussions in class. They should be moved in order to pave way for a circle. The learners should only use their chairs if the meeting is to be more effective.
For the younger learners, those in lower grades, sitting on the floor will be more effective in that movement will be minimal from them. It will also save time for moving desks and chairs since they are young and do not know the value of time. (Marshall 2001). Role of the teacher. The major role of the teacher is to facilitate the meeting. For example, the teacher has to monitor the learners, pose the right questions and give the right answers to the learners. The teacher has to ensure that the right comments are made to every student who attempts to bring something into the discussion.
If a teacher comments on only one learner’s contribution and ignores the other, then that student is bound to believe that his contribution was not worthwhile. The teacher has to conclude the meeting. He/she has to summarize all the points that have been discussed and to make sure that all the learners understand all that has been discussed. Role of the student. The student plays a role in implementing what has been discussed and agreed upon. If the meeting set an agenda on keeping silence in class, then the learner has to try and be silent.
If they agreed on how cleaning of classrooms should be done then the learner has a role to play to make sure that all is a success. Closing the meeting. The teacher should give a summary of the whole meeting on what has been agreed upon. The teacher could also draw a consensus or just state the agreed solution in a problem solving meeting. It serves to reinforce the discussions of the meeting. Evaluation. At the end of the meeting, the teacher should ask himself or herself some questions that reflect on the meeting and are meant to improve skills. For example: are the learners expressing their own opinions?
Are the students displaying any evidence of insightful thinking? (Marshall 2001). The teacher can also asses the level of participation of the learners i. e. if they all took part in the discussion. In conclusion, class meetings are an important part in the creation of a conducive learning environment. When meetings are held with the learners, they not only check on the behavior of the learners but also improve the relationship of the learners and the teacher which is an important aspect in the teacher student relationship. References. Marshall, M. (2001). Classroom meetings. .New York: Piper Press.
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Topic: Planning and implementing classroom meetings
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