Building a strong sense of community in the classroom is extremely important. This year, as the staff begins making improvements in the area of writer's workshop, we are also emphasizing the importance of building a sense of belonging for our students. If we want our students to feel comfortable speaking and writing about personal experiences, they need a safe and accepting environment in which to do so. One way we are promoting community-building in our classrooms is through "morning meeting" or "community circle."
Fortunately, we have a resident expert in this practice. Our 4/5 High Ability teacher worked with the instructional coach to videotape her morning meeting and gave a highly informational presentation to the staff on what a morning meeting in her classroom consists of. More importantly, she outlined all of the benefits of the morning meeting. The most beneficial element, in my opinion, is the sense of belonging that students get from this daily interaction with their peers. They learn that they are part of a classroom "family" and that they take care of each other, have fun together, and learn together.
Teachers have a lot on their plates right now and may not feel that they have time in their daily schedules to devote to a 15- 20 minute meeting with their class. However, if they take just 15-20 minutes of their day to focus on creating a positive learning community within their classrooms, they may spend less time dealing with behavior issues and may see an increase teamwork, effort, pride, and perseverance.
As I walked through the building last week and witnessed several classrooms having their meetings, it was clear that many of the teachers are seeing the benefits of this daily ritual. I am anxious to see the positive impact on not only their classroom community but on the culture of the entire school. We must continue to create the time to build a positive learning community and help all of our students feel a sense of belonging. It is up to us to help our students find their voice, their role, and their significance in their school community. It is time very well spent!