Rethinking the Morning Meeting

Saturday, 23 April 2016

I recently took an online class with Julianne Wurm, author of Working in the Reggio Way.

In her course, she describes how the morning meeting in Reggio Emilia, Italy, where she once worked,  is different than what we have come to know as the morning meeting in the United States.

A Different Kind of Morning Meeting

She shared that Reggio teachers usually begin each day with a more informal meeting where they gather together with children to discuss current projects and inquiries, solve problems, and develop new project ideas.

There was something so authentic about this type of relational meeting that I was curious to try it out and see where it might lead.

kindergarten children gather for a morning meeting with their teacher

Making a Plan

That evening, I jotted down some ideas of what I might talk with the children about at the next day's meeting.

Here’s what I wrote:
  • seeds have started to sprout
  • headphones are getting tangled 
  • Syracuse Basketball has made it into the final four 
When I got to school the next day, there were flyers in my mailbox about renaming the district newsletter so I added that to the list.

Then, on my way down to the classroom, our school social worker mentioned the possibility of a "buddy bench," a playground project for our character ed committee, so I added that too.

Before the kids had even arrived, I was starting to see the many possibilities for beginning our day in this way.


Seed Sprouts

So the first meeting went a little something like this.

I brought the sprouted seeds down to the carpet and asked the kids what we should do now.

planting seeds and checking in on them at the reggio inspired morning meeting

They said we should water them and we discussed how often that should happen and who might do it. We also talked about how we would know when they needed watering. Their ideas led to a demonstration of the "soil test."

Then, one child noticed they were tilted in one direction and another child said it was because they wanted to face the sun. We discussed their "hypothesis" and decided to try an experiment where we would put them back on the counter facing the other direction.

I was witnessing deeper learning opportunities than I had ever seen with traditional plant lessons and it wasn't even "science time."

Tangled Headphones

Our discussion about headphones led to a suggestion that we make a sign to remind others to put the headphones back in the bags so they wouldn't get tangled.

shared problem solving led to sign making in a reggio inspired classroom
"Put the headphones in the bag."

I used this opportunity to talk about persuasive writing and how the words they choose for their poster need to persuade others to change their behavior and put things back where they belong.

Pep Rally Project

There was a lot of enthusiasm for our local basketball team making the final four and the children were anxious to talk about it. Out of this conversation came the idea to wear team colors and hold our own pep rally similar to the one happening at the university.

The children made posters (and we worked on our backward S's), compared basketball scores, and discussed what it meant to work as a team. 

kindergarten pep rally project

Honoring Children's Ideas

From that day on, I continued to hold a morning meeting that was used to problem solve behavioral issues, attend to "housekeeping tasks", connect us to the school and larger community, and to follow up on projects that were happening in our classroom.

A natural outgrowth of these meetings, which may seem like a bonus, but is probably the most important reason for holding them, is that my students have come to know that their ideas/suggestions are valued and they have a voice in our classroom community.

As time went on, I began to see a need for the children to have the opportunity to bring up ideas at our meeting. I posted a sheet of paper on our art easel and directed kids toward it when they came to me with problems such as iPads not being put back or the toilet not being flushed.

kids listing topics for morning meeting


kids making signs to solve problems in a kindergarten classroom

When I told Julianne about my experience with the meeting, she said,"I think this is the heart of the program." I agree!

I see my relationship with the children changing and learning experiences developing in a more natural/organic way.  And yet it is so simple!

So if this sounds like something you might like to try, grab a pad of paper and start capturing those things that are happening in your classroom that either need to be talked or might spark a new project or inquiry.

Let me know how it goes - would love to hear about your experiences!

Thanks for stopping by!

4 comments:

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