Partner Greetings in Morning Meeting

By now my first grade students are pretty good at chatting with a partner. They know how to pair up quickly and how to decide who will go first. They sit knee-to-knee and look each other in the eye. They usually stay on topic, and each person has a chance to speak. They ask each other questions and make comments to keep the conversation going. They’ve been practicing their conversation skills all year, and the positive results are really starting to show.

Earlier in the year, Morning Meeting was one of the times of day when I focused on developing partner skills. We began with greetings. Here’s how it worked:

  1. I started by teaching a few different ways of greeting, such as shaking hands, waving, gentle high five, and simply saying “Good morning!” We did these as around-the-circle greetings at first.
  2. I also taught a mini-lesson on deciding “Who goes first?” where I introduced “rock, paper, scissors” as a strategy to use.
  3. Then I made the connection between partner skills and Morning Meeting greetings explicit by having partners greet each other while the rest of us observed. I’d draw two children’s names out of a hat. Those two would go to the center of the circle, where they’d decide who would go first, and which type of greeting they’d do. They’d greet each other and then return to their place in the circle.
  4. After each pair greeted, I’d ask the children what they noticed. They’d say things like “They made eye contact,” or “She interrupted” (to which I might say “It’s easy to get excited and start talking before it’s your turn. Who has an idea for how we can wait until your partner has finished?”). After sharing a few observations, we’d move on to observe another pair do a greeting.

We did our Morning Meeting greetings this way for a while at the beginning of the year. At first, I was excited to sit back and enjoy watching them use their new skills, but after the initial excitement wore off, my observation skills took over. Doing Morning Meeting greetings this way gave the children a chance to practice in a very safe, structured space—and watching them in this setting helped me get to know them better. I noticed who initiated and who held back; who liked to talk and who preferred to be quiet; and who already had fairly well-developed conversation skills. I’d use that information when I started pairing the children up at other times of day.

The Morning Meeting Book, by Roxann Kriete

This bestselling, comprehensive guide has helped thousands of teachers learn to use Morning Meeting to launch their school days. Clear explanations of each component and its purpose, with sample greetings, activities, and message charts. Includes step-by-step guidelines for implementing Morning Meeting in any K–8 classroom.

Tags: Building Classroom Community, Conversation Skills, Partners

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