Handle the Holidays With Morning Meeting
As the holiday season gets into full swing, maintaining a productive and pleasant classroom atmosphere can become a difficult task. During this time of year, students are frequently distracted by the excitement of holiday events at home and school events such as assemblies, class plays, and holiday dinners, which can disrupt classroom routines. As a result, they are often more fidgety, giggly, testy, and exhausted than usual. Because the tone you establish at the beginning of the school day has a significant impact on how the remainder of the day unfolds, you can use Morning Meeting to keep your students engaged, focused, and having fun throughout December and into the new year.
Morning Meeting Tips
As you start planning your Morning Meetings for this chaotic time of year, here are a few important concepts to keep in mind.
Maintain consistency with meeting time and schedule. Consistency provides considerable comfort to most students. They can relax and settle in for a day of productive learning when Morning Meeting starts at the same time every day, contains the same components in the same order every day, and has a consistently peaceful and enjoyable tone.
Review the class regulations and meeting rules. Because it is late in the school year, we may mistakenly believe that pupils do not require reminders about daily routines and frameworks. (“It’s December! By now, they should have mastered the art of sitting quietly for sharing,” I recall thinking to myself.) But as students become more enthused about forthcoming holidays and vacations, they will require additional reminders about your class norms and the rules of Morning Meeting. Before you begin Morning Meeting, consider asking one of the following questions:
- “Can you think of some ways we can follow our class rule about being respectful during our morning greeting? If you can recall some methods to be a polite listener during Morning Meeting, please raise your hand.”
- “I’ve noticed the energy level in the room is unusually high this morning. Would anyone be willing to share a tip for remaining calm even when you’re feeling jittery inside?”
Expectations and organizational structures should be adjusted as appropriate. If students are having significant difficulties with behavior and self-control, you may need to tighten the reins a little. Keep in mind that you are their safety net! If they are unable to cope with the regular structures and routines, you should adjust. For example:
- For a short period of time, you can have them sit in assigned seats in the Morning Meeting circle. Seat students next to those with whom they can have a productive conversation so that the meeting can remain respectful and positive.
- You might want to make the meeting a little shorter. If you find that students are having difficulty staying focused for the whole amount of time allotted, abbreviate the meeting. You can always reschedule it for the following January!
Ideas for Morning Meeting
Here are some ways to incorporate each component of Morning Meeting into your classroom routine to get your students off to a solid start during this hectic time of year.
Share: Would You Rather? Wednesdays.
Have students choose between two kinds of activities typically done during this season. For example:
- Would you rather shovel the snow or rake the leaves? Why?
- Would you rather visit ______________ or _____________? Why?
Greeting: During the holiday season, students can learn different ways people around the world say “Happy Holidays.” Click here to learn twenty different ways to share with your students.
Share: Give students the opportunity to sign up to share the ways their family celebrates the holiday season. Students can bring in artifacts or photos to share their special traditions, and they can identify similarities and differences in their classmates’ celebrations compared to their own. Students can sign up in advance, and each Morning Meeting can feature one to two student shares throughout the course of the holiday season.
Activity: Alibi with a holiday twist. Alibi is always a fan favorite Morning Meeting activity, particularly in upper elementary classrooms. During the holiday season, it is fun to turn Alibi into a How the Grinch Stole Christmas type of game. The teacher can remove any holiday decor that may be displayed in the classroom while the students are out of the classroom for lunch or specials and select a student who agrees to be “the Grinch” who stole Christmas from their classroom. The game would be played just how Alibi is traditionally played, with the one student changing their alibi. The detective tries to figure out who stole the classroom decorations!
Morning Message Quotes: During the holiday season, teachers could use the morning message as an opportunity to share and reflect on quotes. Students can write about what the quote means to them as a journal jot or share with a partner during the morning circle. Some example quotes are:
- “A holiday is an opportunity to journey within.”—Prabhas
- “Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”—Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express
- “We are like a snowflake, all different in our own beautiful way.”— Unknown
- “I think as you grow older, your Christmas list gets smaller and the things you really want for the holidays can’t be bought.”—Unknown
- “Let us be grateful for the people who make us happy—they are the charming gardeners who make our soul blossom.”—Marcel Proust, Les Plaisirs et les Jours
Morning Meeting Ideas submitted by Maria Laina Sileo, fifth grade teacher from Port Chester, NY, and Kristin Pascuzzi, K–5 ELL and dual language instructional coach from Port Chester, NY
Written by Ann Rose Santoro, Responsive Classroom educational consultant and coach