Week 6 was the day my group led our first Morning Meeting. All of the information I shared during my first post was finally put into practice! The majority of the preparation time was spent determining who would lead which portion and how we could fit all of the material into a 15 minute timeframe. To ensure that each of us stuck to our allotted amount of time we decided to have two timers. The first began as soon as we called students to the circle and the second timer was to make sure that each student only spoke for 30 (or less) seconds during the sharing sessions. In total we spent about two hours preplanning for our Morning Meeting. For the most part our planning was effective but in the end we did run Morning Meeting five minutes beyond the preferred 15 minutes.
We wrote out our agenda for Morning Meeting and made sure each of us had a copy to help keep us running on time and on the same page. Throughout the three Morning Meetings led by our professor(s) and the two student/peer led meetings it became very apparent how easily time can exceed the budget. In every Morning Meeting the number one time killer was not a lack of structure but because of the in-depth and rich conversations our class of almost 25 students engaged in. Of course, the first couple meetings time was consumed in teaching practices and introducing us to what we should expect as participants of Morning Meeting but as our lessons and activities get more involved in class we do not have the same time flexibility.
Our detailed, step-by-step plan can be seen in the picture below:
My co-leaders and I selected a theme of student punishment that caused unnecessary shame and/or embarrassment by the teacher. We decided to move forward with this idea because it is addressed in Florida’s Code of Ethics and Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida (http://www.fldoe.org/edstandards/code_of_ethics.asp)
We began our meeting with one leader sharing a time in which she felt personally shamed by a teacher. She then informed the students that we would each have 30 seconds to share a time when they either personally experienced shaming and/or observed it in a classroom. I followed by informing them of the topic we would be addressing so they could connect the experiences they shared and more easily understand the potential emotional/psychological effects of these poor teacher behaviors. I then introduced an article from listverse.com that complied 10 instances where educators practiced harsh and emotionally disturbing punishments on students to bring to light what a serious concern this can be. The article can be viewed here: http://listverse.com/2014/02/04/10-insanely-bizarre-school-punishments/ . With time constraints we briefly provided a summary of numbers 9, 7, and 3. As the timer went off at fifteen minutes I acknowledged we had exceeded our limit and wrapped up the conversation allowing only three student responses from the article. With that my first co-led Morning Meeting came to an end.
This was immediately followed by our professor leading an open class discussion on what our group did well and what we could improve on.
What we did well
- Tie in one theme to all sections
- Called order to the meeting by gradually calling all students to the floor by birth month and then returned them to their seats by favorite color to avoid any unnecessary disruptions during transition
- Addressed and updated time limits so no one was surprised on felt as if they had been cut off
- Recognized and acknowledge that we were grateful the students felt safe and comfortable to open open to the class about their experiences
Where we could improve
- Time management – a good practice may be to have neighbors pair and share their stories instead of going around the circle individually to save time
- Information overload – maybe next time only discuss one of the three mentioned stories from the article
- Non-verbal signal – Our non-verbal signal (hand and arm raised up) to indicate their 30 seconds had passed was not accessible to all students
- Missing component (news and announcement) – again a result of time management
More on time: In my observations of three different grade level elementary classrooms the idea that there is almost never enough time to do everything a teacher desires has also been made clear. As a result of these understandings I did find myself with a main focus of time. Not to imply that time management is a “bad” concept but it did leave me feeling slightly unfulfilled of the bonding and learning experience Morning Meeting has been suggested to incorporate to the unit. According to Kriete, “Teachers and administrators must model the social and academic skills that they wish to teach their students,” (2002). Given the value society places on timeliness in terms of social and professional settings as well as in academic fields (testing, reports, due dates, etc.) my concerns are probably very similar to what students experience and therefore it is important I model how to appropriately juggle tight schedules. So while my first run did not live up to some expectations it certainly opened my eyes to unexpected results.
Overall, I was proud of our Morning Meeting but like all things, practice and experience are needed 🙂 I wish I would have recorded it to review myself. I know I need to work on time management and think about different ways I can incorporate the improvements listed above.
More to come next week when I dig deeper into our Florida Standards and acceptable forms of “punishment”!
(2013) Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida, §6A-10.081.
Retrieved from http://www.fldoe.org/edstandards/code_of_ethics.asp
Hoebee, Shelby (2014, February 4). 10 Insanely Bizarre School Punishments. Listverse.
Kriete, R. (2002). The morning meeting book. Thunder Falls, MA: Northeast Foundation, Inc.