Honoring Small Moments

Author: Sue Musson

I was recently chatting with my daughter about her 5th grade classroom.  She was sharing how one of her students had recently been placed in his third foster care family. She also shared what a smart and capable student he is, but that his emotional well-being was becoming fragile and starting to impact his ability to come to school each day, ready to learn. Our conversation extended to the many roles of a teacher beyond providing instruction and meaningful learning experiences, and how important it is to be present and to create intentional moments with a child, knowing that daily, all children bring their life experiences to the classroom.

One of the many ways my daughter, and the teachers that I am privileged to work with “check-in” with their students, is by providing daily morning meetings and closing circles. As part of our whole child practice at our school (supported by the ASCD initiative, formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), we know that each child has the right to feel safe, healthy, challenged, engaged and supported while in the classroom. These meetings provide an important vehicle, not only to encourage classroom community, but to also support the social and emotional well-being of each child and to check the “pulse” of the classroom at the start and end of the day.

responsive classroom - iconThe structure of these meetings is from the good work of
The Responsive Classroom. Each morning meeting begins with a greeting with one another, a time to share news about oneself, family, or school,  a group activity to build inclusion and cooperation and a morning message about the day ahead.The closing circle is an informal gathering to share about the day’s events, celebrate, reflect and to again, check the “pulse” of the classroom,  before departing for the day.

For a child, these meetings provide a safe and risk-free outlet to have a voice, resulting in the feeling of significance and having influence on the success of his or her day. For a  teacher, it allows him or her to actively listen and to validate each child and his/her contributions. Once a teacher has checked in with each student while gathered together, he or she can have any needed follow-up with a child, to better ensure a positive start, or end to the day.

Knowing that classrooms need to be a soft place to land for a child, at any age, I invite all classroom teachers to invest time in learning about and implementing morning meetings and closing circles. As an extension of the classroom, I invite parents to pause in the busyness of the day, and “check-in” with their children at the start and end of the day.

Think of the difference we, as the adults in the lives of children, can make by honoring these small moments each day, knowing the huge outcome we may create.

How was the start to your day? How did your start impact your day? My wish for you and every child is that each day begins feeling refreshed, safe and secure, and that one ends each day with a sense of peace and calm.

The Morning Meeting BookFor more information on Morning Meetings and Closing Meetings and how to honor small moments that have a big impact, please refer to the following resources:

ClosingCircles

The Morning Meeting, K-8,
by Roxann Kriete and Carol Davis

Closing Circles, K-6, 50 Activities for Ending the Day in a Positive Way, by Dana Januszka and Kristen Vincent

Both books and other valuable information can also be found on the website:
responsive classroom.org