Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Creating a Caring Classroom with Class Meetings

One of the best ways to not only get to know your students at the beginning of the year but also create a caring community is to have class meetings. As part of the Student Intervention Team at my Title I school in Alaska, I was often amazed at how little some teachers really knew about a student that they had referred. Many of the students being referred were ESL students and often I knew more about these students than their classroom teacher. Usually these teachers also had behavior management issues as well. For me, there was nothing more important than getting to know my students and for my students to get to know each other, especially at the beginning of the school year.

Although I've seen class meetings used very effectively in elementary intermediate grades it is just as effective in the primary grades. For younger children it is a great way to either begin your week or end you week, but it always should be scheduled on the same day and time each week as students like to follow a routine. Your 15 to 20 minutes a week on a class meeting will go a long way in creating a warm and caring class climate for the whole school year.

Here are some good rules for class meetings:
  • Respect for everyone
  • Put ups- (no put-downs)
  • Be a good listener
  • Student's right to pass when it is their turn    
You may also want to use a special signal to keep the meeting under control. One idea is to use "talking chips." I used these colored transparent ones that you can find at Walmart or Amazon.

There are always students in your class who do all the talking and those that don't talk at all. It may take a few times to practice this technique but they catch on really quickly and really think it's fun. Give each student a talking chip. They can only use their chip one time during the meeting. After starting the meeting with a prompt for everyone to share, pick a student to begin. Once they have finished talking, they put their chip in the middle of the circle. Students are not allowed to talk if they don't have a Talking Chip. It is a fun way to teach and practice good listening skills. Here are a few ideas for prompts for the primary grades:

  • Say something nice about someone in our class.
  • One thing I like about our class is.......
  • My favorite activity was.......................
  • Something nice that happened to me was...............
  • Something I am good at is........................
Class meetings are also good for resolving problems that have occurred and teach about problem solving strategies. Many Title I schools had Guidance Counselors that do activities like this once a week but even if you do, I feel that it is such an important part of creating a sense of community in your classroom where students feel valued for their feelings and opinions. It is not only a way for you connect with your students but for your students to connect with each other.

I have some fun Back to School Activity Packets for both K-1 and 2-5 with lots of activities for the 1st weeks of school to help create a caring classroom. Just click on either grade level to see all the activities in each packet. (download the Preview file)
                                          (K-1)                            (2-5)

You can also download this Freebie that includes 2 Fun Chants about Being Respectful. This one is for grades 3-5. Hope you will leave feedback. Thank you.
I just uploaded this Free "Getting Along at School" Poem and Writing Activities Packet which you can download by clicking on the image below. Don't forget to leave feedback. Thank you.

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students. Although most of you won't be going back to school for several weeks I hope you have a great start to the new school year.

Looking for some great Pinterest boards to follow? I have lots of great boards for all your educational needs. You may especially like my most popular one below. Thanks for following me on Pinterest.

Thanks for all you do to make a difference for your students.
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What do you do to create a sense of community in your classroom?

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