Providing A Sense of Normalcy Amidst Uncertainty

Morning Meeting and closing circle are the bookends of the day. These powerful strategies ensure that students start and close their days with a sense of purpose and connectedness. These time-honored routines and rituals can provide a sense of normalcy for both teachers and students. Many educators have been engaging students remotely for a few weeks now, while some are just starting to take on the task as scheduled breaks end. Here are some ideas for how you can incorporate Morning Meeting and closing circle into your efforts to connect with and support students.

Plan to Hold a Morning Meeting (30 minutes each morning at a set time)
  1. Share and review norms, then check-in as a group. Some possible prompts:
    • What’s the weather like outside your window?
    • If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?
    • Tell a six-word story about yourself.
    • What emoji represents how you are feeling today?
    • Share something you learned during your online learning yesterday.
  2. Outline a schedule for the day. Share the learning and assignments for the day.
    • Consider an outdoor learning task.
    • Remember to have realistic expectations. Academics are a way to create a sense of normalcy and continuity; be reasonable about what you and your students can achieve. Focus on building skills or reviewing key content, not on introducing new learning.
    • Don’t forget about non-core classes: assign P.E., art, or music activities that kids can do on their own.
  3. Use technology that allows you to share and connect with students.
    • Various online tools allow you to make quick videos of both yourself and images you want to share, which you can use to post a message or personally share videos with your students.
    • For example, try out Screencastify for personalized morning messages.
MM and CC LearningConnect with Students Throughout the Day
  1. Encourage students to sign up for “office hours” or 1:1 connections with a teacher. A Google Doc or online form can help facilitate this process.
  2. Celebrate the small things to help you and your students with mental health and distract from anxiety.
  3. Have some fun together. Here are some ideas for fostering the relational glue that is laughing and feeling good together:
    • Read-alouds
    • Mindful moments
    • Jokes and riddles
    • Morning announcements
    • Meme of the day
    • A class blog
  4. Above all, be gentle and let students who don’t want to engage this way also be okay. This. Is. A. Lot.
End the Day Well with a Closing Check-In (30 minutes or less at the end of the afternoon)
  1. Have students share out: How did today go?
  2. Reflect on new skills learned that can apply to both home and school.
  3. Follow up on challenges from earlier in the day (meme of the day/dance-off/etc.).
  4. Sign off in a positive way.

We are seeing a barrage of online resources coming the way of teachers, and that is great. But the most important thing right now is for kids to feel seen, loved, cared for, and supported.


Written by  Deanna Ross and Ramona McCollough, Responsive Classroom Consulting Teachers, and Educational Consultants and Coaches
Tags: Building Classroom Community, Sharing, Transitions, Virtual Learning

28 Replies to “Providing A Sense of Normalcy Amidst Uncertainty”

  • I think the most important thing is to be positive and have realistic expectations for your kids.

    • I read this article previously when I was searching for the 7 Habits. I think it is important as a new teacher in the building and as parents navigating this whole new situation to try something different. One, it takes away the anxiety of what is considered “normal routine.” Two, scholars seem to be willing participants when they are logged on.
      I was a part of a 4th grade class meeting last week. At the end of the session, Ms Frank played music, the scholars were asked to perform as many jumping jacks as they could. The fun the scholars and the adults had in that different experience was wonderful. So I think we can get Engagement, discussion, vocabulary, etc. through this new experience. It is worth a try.

      • This just made me think of a game my students like to play called “Statues in the Garden”. Students move around and then “freeze” and the selected student gets to spot who moves first. I might try it on a virtual call this week!

  • I have been making my art lessons accessible to what they will have in their home. I try to keep a fun and positive tone to my interactions.

  • Like the students, we are in a learning process with them. I think that it is important that they see us growing with them and improving something every week. It is also important to acknowledge mutual feelings and let them be validated under the circumstances we are all under. We check with them in the morning, eventually we can plan a closing for the day.

  • I enjoyed the article and totally agree with checking in with the kids. They are asking on a daily basis are we meeting and sometimes even logging in just to see if anyone else is there. So like Ms. Glover stated we will meet as a team and see how will build on what we are already doing.

  • Everyone you are supposed to fill out the reflection form. The link is on the same slide with the article.

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