Midvalley Morning Meetings may be best meetings in education
Nov 01, 2017 04:35PM
● By Julie Slama
Each morning, Midvalley fourth-grade teacher Sherry Nance writes a letter to her students. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
Each morning, Midvalley Elementary students know they can count on a greeting from their teacher.
And each morning, Midvalley Elementary Principal Tamra Baker said that starts the day off right.
“It sets our community tone every day,” she said. “When they greet one another, nobody wants to miss it. It has significantly reduced our tardies.”
While Morning Meetings aren’t new in education, they are new at Midvalley Elementary.
In Rona Bresnahan’s first-grade class, students learn each other’s names at the beginning of the year as they stand in a circle to greet each child in the classroom.
Baker said that teachers create fun ways to not only have students practice their social skills, but cheer each other on.
“The kids can’t wait. They’re happier and wanting to be here, learning. Usually they have a sharing activity, where they tell something in confidence or they problem solve as a class,” she said. “Then, the teacher may pre-teach a concept or outline the day’s expectations in a letter for the kids. It may involve a math problem for the kids to solve, but it sets kids up for success.”
In Sherry Nance’s fourth-grade class, students, or “super heroes” read through the letter from their teacher that is filled with spelling words they are learning that week, giving them a chance to both review the words, but also to understand their meaning in a fun way.
Baker believes this first 15 minutes of the day makes the entire school day more productive.
“The students know and like the routine and know what to expect,” she said.
Fifth-grader Sergio Vergara said that in his classroom taught by Elyse Mingl, nobody is late anymore.
“We learned a lot right from the start of the day,” Sergio said. “We’ve greeted each other in several languages, like German and Hawaiian.”
Classmate Alea Hoover said by having greetings as part of the Morning Meeting, “makes it fun. We do activities first thing and she keeps the message on the board so we know what we’re doing. It makes us feel welcome.”
Fifth-grader Maryann Hassan said that oftentimes her teacher will have students do an activity before they learn more on the subject.
“It gives us a head start on what we’re going to do,” she said. “We’re learning more about each other which helps us relate better.”
Former teacher, now aide, Arlene Baumgartner said that in the seven years she has been at the school, the introduction of the Morning Meetings has brought about significant improvement.
“The kids are excited to be at school and they’re engaged,” she said. “They’re smiling and having fun. It’s amazing to see the difference in tardiness and in their attitudes. They feel cared for and wanted. They come and are ready to learn.”