Saturday, 16 October 2010 17:45

Tip #8: Morning Circle Time

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The first seven Teaching Tips all focused on important beginning-of-the-year priorities.  Last week’s tip about reviewing the class mission statement once a week so that it serves as a consistent reference point throughout the year concludes this theme and transitions us into our next one: establishing an effective morning routine that prepares students for a great day of learning.  I mentioned that my students and I read and discuss our mission statement every Friday, and these short conversations help get our Fridays off to a great start.  In the coming weeks I will describe other elements of an effective morning routine that you can use with your students.  

Checking In

   My students and I begin our daily morning routine with a variation of a team-building activity described by Jeanne Gibbs’ in her wonderful book Tribes.  Using a 1-10 scale, each student checks in with the group by stating a number expressing how he or she is doing that day.  A “10” means life couldn’t be better.  I’m happy, energetic, and ready to have a great day.  

On the other hand, a “1” means that I would rather be anywhere but here.  Perhaps I am sick, upset, or troubled by something at home.  The kids can pick any number between one and ten, fractions and decimals included, to share with the group.  Students who do not wish to participate have the freedom to pass.  

Going around the circle takes only a minute or two because the kids are only saying numbers; they aren’t revealing the reasons behind their numbers, thus preserving everyone’s right to privacy.  

I’m always on the lookout for low numbers so that, as the day unfolds, I can offer these students comfort and cheer to boost their spirits.  I encourage the kids to do the same.  This activity builds a sense of inclusion and mutual caring; it also strengthens the bonds among team members.  In addition, whenever possible, we try to find time at the end of the day to go around the circle again so that we can determine whether there have been any changes from the morning.

It's always heart-warming to hear students who began the day with a low number share a high number at the end of the day and describe how a classmate cared enough about them to cheer them up throughout the day.

New Teaching Tips appear every Sunday of the school year.