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”

  • These are all great ideas. I will make a point to work on more small groups/ 1:1 interactions with scholars this week. Then, I will gradually add another tip weekly. Thanks!

  • This is a great overview, While there is an enormous amount of uncertainty, This is a great way to create some since of normalcy for ourselves and our scholars during these difficult times as we all are learning together.

  • I understand the information presented to us in this article and I agree a sense of normalcy needs to be established. We are trying to create this sense of normalcy in our own homes despite the circumstances. However, it’s not just us as teachers letting parents know that “Johnny needs to do his homework” or “Johnny needs to read more every night”. Now we have a set of new expectations: Get up at a certain time, eat breakfast, check in, start your work, submit your work, read our comments about your work, go to bed at a reasonable hour, etc.
    Our domain is the classroom. There, we rule. We can only wish that our attempts to bring about this normalcy will transcend into a few of our students’ homes.

  • I feel that establishing a routine and schedule with our scholars to meet virtually is important to maintain their sense of self in the classroom community.

  • I agree that being in touch with the weather and your surrounding at this time is very beneficial to our children.

  • It is important that the parents deal with this unexpected interruption of our lives with normal sense and maturity which will help our
    scholars develop good coping skills for situations that are sad. Prayer, patients, Smiles, routines, structure and being kind are the key ingredients our scholars,parents an educators will need to navigate through this uncertain time.

  • Hello,
    I really enjoyed how your tips were realistic, and could be used across all grade levels. I think making sure that the students know we are there for them is the main take away from this article.
    I try to meet with my homeroom once a week, at the end of the day. During that time I either do a “sweet and sour” for their week, or I have them describe their week by comparing it to the weather, like cloudy or rainy. I have also tried to make my meetings fun by playing games, such as asking “Would you Rather?” questions.
    I’ll have to try some of your questions and ideas next week!
    Thank you.

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