Morning Meeting: A Soft Place to Land

When Eric’s father died suddenly just before a long weekend, Morning Meeting gave our school the safe structure we needed to help this second grader and his schoolmates cope with the tragedy.

When we first got the sad news from Eric’s family, we let each of the second grade families know that we would be talking about the loss at school. We encouraged parents to share the news with their children over the weekend. On Monday, Eric would come in late to give the teachers time for a special conversation with the other children.

In Eric’s classroom, this conversation took the form of a modified Sharing. “I’m going to be sharing today,” the teacher said, “and then you’ll have a chance to share some of your ideas.” She talked about the death and how the class could care for Eric. Asking Eric about his dad might make him very sad, she explained. But children could bring their questions to her or their parents.

Then the children brainstormed ways to support Eric. They decided the best thing would be to keep everything as normal as possible. They could offer Eric a soft hello, but they would continue working; they would not stare at him. Clearly, these children cared about each other.

Following the brainstorming, everyone stood for a music activity followed by a Morning Message. The children then went to their desks to begin their poetry work.

When Eric arrived, both he and the other children knew just what to do. Eric walked over to the Morning Message, signed in, and found his way to his chair. His classmates greeted him with quiet friendliness.

I realized, once again, the power of Morning Meeting. It gives children a structure for living in community, a way to reach out to others, and a sense of safety. Morning Meeting provides a soft place to land when life is hard. I don’t know what our school would do without it.

Babs Freeman-Loftis is Assistant Head of the Lower School at the University School of Nashville in Tennessee. She is a certified Responsive Classroom consulting teacher.

Tags: Building Classroom Community

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