Handling the Holidays

by Mike Anderson on
Students listening in Morning Meeting

As the holidays swing into full gear, maintaining a productive and calm atmosphere in the classroom can be challenging. Students can be more fidgety, giggly, testy, and tired at this time of year. In December, children are also often distracted by the excitement of home activities and by the stress that their parents and caregivers may be feeling. Furthermore, your classroom schedule may be disrupted by assemblies, class plays, and holiday lunches.

Morning Meeting can help. The tone that you set at the beginning of the school day can make a huge difference in how the rest of day goes. Over the next few days, I'll post specific ideas for using each component of Morning Meeting to get your class off to a good start at this frenzied time of year. But first, here are some general concepts to keep in mind:

Be consistent about meeting time and structure.

Most students find great comfort in consistency. When Morning Meeting starts at the same time each day, has the same components each day (in the same order), and has a consistently calm and fun tone, students will be able to relax and settle in for a day of learning.

Review class rules and meeting rules.

By this time of the year, we may (mistakenly) assume that students don’t need reminders about routines and structures of the day. ("It's December! They should know how to sit quietly for sharing by now!" I remember myself saying.) However, as students get more excited about upcoming holidays and vacation, they will need extra reminders about your class rules and Morning Meeting rules. Try asking a question like one of these before you begin Morning Meeting:

  • "What are some ways we can follow our class rule about being respectful during our greeting this morning?"
  • "Raise your hand if you can remember some ways to be a respectful listener during Morning Meeting."
  • "I noticed that our energy level is pretty high this morning. Who would like to share a strategy for staying calm even when you're feeling jumpy inside?"
Adjust expectations and structures as needed.

If students are really struggling with behavior and self control, you may need to rein things in a bit. Remember . . . you are their safety net! If they can't handle the regular structures and routines, you should adjust. For instance:

  • You might use assigned seats in the Morning Meeting circle for a while. Seat students next to others with whom they can be successful, so the meeting can stay respectful and positive.
  • You might shorten the meeting. If you notice that students are having a hard time maintaining focus for the usual amount of time, shorten your meeting up. You can always stretch it back out in January!

Feel free to share your ideas and experiences by leaving a comment!

Read more in this series on how to use Morning Meeting to set a positive tone for the day during the build-up to winter holidays and school vacation. I'll write about the four components of Morning Meeting in order: Greeting, Sharing, Group Activity, and Morning Message.

←   Read the previous post:
"Forging Connections with Families, Part 1: Removing Barriers"

Read the next post:   →
"Handling the Holidays: Morning Meeting Greeting"

Great reminder! As a principal, I  find that reviewing our schools mission of "PAWS" Power of Words, Acceptance of Others, Willingness to Help Other and Self-Control with specific examples during morning announcements helps to keep the students on track. I also visit classrooms throughout the day to give helpful reminders to make good choices and be proud of what they do and say.  It is a hectic time of year for everyone, but if we keep school consistent, we can add to the holiday happiness.

Happy Holidays!