Are You in a Morning Message Rut?

If so, you’re not alone! I’ve been hearing from teachers who feel they could do more to make this part of Morning Meeting as purposeful, fun, and engaging as greeting, sharing and group activity.

A well-crafted message can do many things: inspire students to think about the day ahead, intrigue them with an interesting task or question, encourage them to think of themselves as a community, give them a chance to tackle academics in a safe but challenging way. . . . The list goes on and on!

Here is an example of a math-themed message I saw recently in a third grade classroom:

Dear Number Experts,

Wow—you have learned so much about number theory! You now know about factors, greatest common factors, prime, composite, and multiples. I bet you can use what you learned to solve this riddle: I am greater than 10 and less than 20. I am a factor of 14 and 28. What am I?

Mrs. Cook

In just a few sentences, this message started off the students’ week with a positive reference to all of them as “number experts,” a reminder of the key principles they had been studying, and a challenge to help their minds get back into these principles. Nicely done!

Writing simple but engaging and effective messages is a bit of an art. It will get easier and take less time with practice. Here are some tips:

  • Take a look at the book Morning Meeting Messages.
    It includes 180 sample charts from actual classrooms, collected over a year. The book is also packed with ideas for how to create charts, connect the message to skills the class is working on, and use charts during the meeting and later in the day. Every time I look at it, I’m inspired to do something new, different, or interesting with messages.
  • Share messages with colleagues.
    You can do this formally or informally. Your school could devote some time to messages by having everyone bring a favorite message to a faculty meeting and spend some time discussing what makes them effective. Or, take turns posting a favorite recent message in the faculty workroom. Or just drop into a colleague’s classroom, take a look at the message chart, and steal a good idea!
  • Plan ahead, and pick a focus topic for each day of the week.
    I’ll explain this and give an example of a weekly Morning Meeting message schedule in my next post!

Margaret Berry Wilson is the author of several books, including: The Language of Learning, Doing Science in Morning Meeting (co-authored with Lara Webb), Interactive Modeling, and Teasing, Tattling, Defiance & More.

Tags: Math, Middle of the Year