Monday, November 16, 2015

Class Meetings

I used to have class meetings every morning.  Although I loved starting the day this way, we felt the time crunch and something had to give.  Now we only have class meetings once a week.
The purpose of our class meeting is to build a sense of community and give the students a voice and chance to problem solve.

We start with an activity.  Sometimes we do GoNoodle songs or dances.  Other times, we play a short game.  We just like to start with something light and fun.  Plus, it gives me a chance to show my dancing skills (picture Elaine from Seinfeld).

Then we talk about what is going well in our class.  These ideas can be generated by the students or me.  We might point out things like how well we are building our stamina in Daily 5 or how everyone is using good manners.  

Then we talk about any things that might need to be changed.  Sometimes we talk about how messy the book area is becoming or how we need to work on walking quietly in the hall.  I prefer the ideas come from the kids, but I contribute to the conversation.

We always talk about what we can do to improve any problem situations.  The students really do have some good ideas.  I want them to see themselves as problem solvers, so it's best if they come up with solutions on their own.

Then we have "teacher talk."  During this time, I might tell them about some upcoming events or topics of interest.  Sometimes we review procedures or routines that need revisiting.  I always try to end the meeting on a positive note by pointing out some good things that have been happening in our class.

I have a laminated chart that hangs on one of the cabinets in my classroom.  This is where students add ideas for discussion.  We use this to guide our meetings.  After the meeting, I erase the topics, and we are ready for the next week.

The picture below shows the chart for one week.  The students wrote "transitions" on the plus side (what is going well).  I wrote "great manners."  Another student wrote "3 inch voice" on the delta side (what we need to change).  A three inch voice is what we call a whisper.  There are times in the day where students need to use a 3 inch voice.

On top of the plus/delta chart is our procedure for class meetings.  Both of these charts are laminated and have magnetic tape on the back.  This way we can move them around and bring them to the carpet are where we have class meetings.

When we are learning about class meetings, I explain that this is not a time for tattling.  We are not allowed to single out a person or tell on anyone.  

I really feel that our class meetings are valuable and overall very positive.  Do you have class meetings in your school?  What ideas can you share?
Class meeting charts

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