You can build community through classroom meetings. Meetings should last about 10-15 minutes. After greeting each student at the door, invite them to a communal space, like the carpet. Students may sit in a circle for meetings that build empathy or sit in rows for planning meetings. Be sure to state the purpose of the meeting.
Below are some types of meetings.
- Classroom Norms Meeting: What are the procedures for taking turns in discussions? What are the procedures for giving feedback? What are some sentence stems that can help us start difficult conversations? How do we disagree with respect? How do we listen?
- Classroom Protocols Meeting: What are the classroom signals for quiet, thinking time, I need help, etc.? How do we “think/pair/share”? What are the bathroom procedures?
- Good News Meeting: “Who has some good news to share?” Choose no more than three students to share news.
- Circle Whip Meeting: Go around the circle and have students complete the sentence starter or pass. Sample sentence starters:
- One thing I like about yesterday’s class is…
- A decision I think we should make is…
- Something that bothers me is…
- Goal Setting Meeting: Discuss the goals for the day or unit.
- Rule Setting Meeting: What rules do we need for our classroom discussions? For walking in the hall? For talking about something that happened that we don’t like?
- Conflict Resolution Meeting: Help students develop the capacity to wait to solve issues. Help them balance listening and talking. Ask students to state a compliment of another student.
- Reflection Meeting: Talk about how an activity or project went. How well did you work together? What was good about it? What could we do better? What did you learn?
- Academic Issues: Why are we studying this? What do we know already? What do we need to know? Who are the experts we can learn from? How can we use our knowledge to make something better?
- Concept Meeting: Talk about how-to or definitions. For example, how to shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye. How to make a friend. How to ask for help.
- Sticky Situations Meeting: What should you do if you find a wallet? If you see someone steal something? If you see someone alone at lunch? If you know someone is hungry?
End the meeting with a summary or reflection.
Check for understanding with a silent signal, such as hold two fingers by your heart to mean one thing and one finger by your heart to mean another thing. This keeps their answer private and you can quickly see full participation.