Congratulations! You "Survived & Thrived" through February and are ready to embrace March, welcome Daylight Savings time, partake in St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and celebrate the official beginning of SPRING! It’s a wonderful time of year, full of hope, renewed energy, and high expectations.
In my February 12th post, I mentioned class meetings as a useful strategy for building positive relationships with students. In today’s post, I’d like to discuss why they are important to include in your daily or weekly schedule.
An organized and productive classroom of any type — general ed., special ed., co-taught, self-contained, or resource, etc. — will promote a positive climate. In turn, a positive classroom climate will promote effective instruction. Your goal should be to create a classroom community where students feel safe, respect peers and adults, are excited about learning, and are motivated to be successful. (Survive & Thrive: Tips for Special Educators, Maureen Gale, DayOne Publishing, 2008)
Class meetings, or community meetings as they are sometimes called, can help you achieve this goal. Teaching children to be kind to one another is crucial to their social development; yet this is often overlooked by teachers, with all the other demands on our instructional time during the day. However, I believe that when you take the time to show your children how to be respectful of one another, how to understand the differences within their classroom community, and how to express themselves through conversation, each day in your classroom will be happier, more peaceful, and definitely more academically productive!
How often? Daily in kindergarten, two or three times a week in primary school, once a week at the intermediate stages and older, or more often for any grade level as needed. Teacher style and degree of classroom structure will be factors in this decision.
How long? This depends on the group and their skill level or “seat time limit”; it could be 5 – 10 minutes but usually not longer than 30 minutes.
When? First activity of the day, before a break, after lunch (this is a great settling-down activity), before dismissal at the end of a class period, or (for elementary) at the end of the day.
Tomorrow I'll offer you a few more tips on getting started with classroom meetings!
All the best,