I have been working hard to build a community with my 20 first graders. This has been especially difficult because of language barriers between the students who speak Spanish and those who do not speak Spanish and the constant change of students ( I gained 3 students from another class in week 2, switched 3 with another teacher in week 3, and had 2 students stop coming since the first day). There are two essential pieces of our day that without a fail all of the children get along and are kind to each other, thus they are my two favorite parts of my day!
Morning Meeting: While I have not yet had time to read THE Morning Meeting book, I have established a morning meeting routine that my students seem to really enjoy. Each morning after morning work and announcements, we form a circle around the carpet. Before I join the circle I read our morning message... something along the lines of
"Dear Rainbow Fish, What is your favorite color? Today we will do our journals, talk about characters in reading, and practice our numbers in math. After lunch we will practice our short -a words. At the end of the day we will go to P.E. We need to really work hard on our noise level today so we have more time to learn. Let's make it a great day! Love, Miss Prinzo"
After I read the message I sit down in the circle to start are morning handshake. I turn to the student on the left and say "Good morning_____." and shake their hand. They reply with, "Good morning Miss Prinzo" and then turn to their neighbor and repeat the process. Once the handshake gets back to my other side we say our morning chant (stolen from OASC ML mornings)
"G-O-O-D-M-O-R-N-I-N-G Good morning! Hey! Hey! Good morning! Whooo!"
Next we answer our morning question which sometimes has to do with academics and sometimes is more "get to know you" style. Right now I am trying to help my students use complete sentences (a Common Core Speaking and Listening standard that is particularly difficult for EL studnets). We use a big squishy ball similar to this one (mine is purple).
We pass the ball in either clockwise circle (if I am in a bad mood or my students are not acting appropriately) or back and forth across the circle (if I am in a good mood and my students are behaving). When we pass it back and forth the procedure is that your hands go on your knees if you still need the ball or in your lap if you have already had a turn to answer the question.
After the morning question I give an overview of our daily schedule and then we do a transition to face the white board so I can teach my first lesson of the day.
H3: Hug, Handshake, or High Five
At the end of the day when we line up to leave the room for the last time, we have H3. My students LOVE this! One of my favorite professors suggested this to us during our Stories of Teaching Class as a way to ensure that every student has a positive end to his or her day. I like it as much as the students do! It is nice to know that no matter HOW MUCH they drive me crazy during our afternoons, we will end our day on good terms. H3 is super simple. I have this sign posted on my door:
As the children leave they tell me if they want a hug, high five or handshake. This is a SERIOUS decision. Many of my students choose something different each day (although a few never change).