Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: Why I Devote Time to Community Meetings {Series Post #1}
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Why I Devote Time to Community Meetings {Series Post #1}

As a fourth and fifth grade classroom teacher, I have come to love the time I chisel out for our classroom community meetings. During this routine part of our day, I get to teach to make an impact on my students’ lives and provide them with tools to help them develop personally, academically, and socially. Community Meeting allows me to fill the classroom with positivity and set the tone for the day, the week, and our year together. When I look back on the times spent with my students in classroom meetings, I feel that I’ve truly had the opportunity to make an impact on my students and my little part of the world, which is the primary reason I became a teacher.

Perhaps you already implement a Morning Meeting or Classroom Meeting routine, but are looking for something different. Maybe you are considering including a classroom meeting in your school day or want to learn more about “morning meetings” and aren’t sure of the real purpose or where to start. You might be like I was a few years ago and looking for something to help you take your uppergrades’ morning meeting to the next level. Whatever your experience with classroom meeting and your desire to learn more, you have come to the right place! I hope my "Implementing the Community Meeting" blog series sparks some new ideas and the conviction that a classroom meeting, whether daily or 2-3 times a week, is worthy of your classroom time.

Why Do I Believe So Strongly in Setting Aside Classroom Time for Community Meetings? 


Setting the Tone: Community Meeting allows me to set the tone for my classroom as we establish our community at the beginning of the year. Through read alouds and discussions, I convey that including others is an expectation, I provide students with tools for dealing with conflict, we reflect on our progress and set goals, and I encourage them to develop compassion and practice kindness.

An Opportunity to Bond: Community Meetings allow students to bond and hear one another’s feelings. As students open up to one another during reflections and discussions, we have the opportunity to develop empathy and see our classmates in new ways. It often changes our perspective on a person when he/she shares their feelings and experiences with us. 


An Outlet for Frustrations:      A Community meeting gives students and me the opportunity to discuss and problem-solve any issues we’ve been having in the classroom, at lunch, in special-area classes, and at recess. Classroom meeting sometimes reveals student concerns that I may not have been aware of prior to students’ discussions.

Responding to Students’ Needs: With a dedicated routine for classroom discussions focused on community and personal development, I am able to respond to students’ needs as they arise. I have an outline for the sequence of my classroom meeting themes (starting with belonging, kindness, compassion, conflict, and perseverance) and I plan to spend at least one week on each theme. However, if students show me that we need to discuss perseverance before we worry about addressing conflict or vice-versa, then I can move my themes around. It is beneficial for students to be exposed to all of the themes, but the temperament of your students and their personalities is important to take into consideration as you decide what themes to delve into.

Personal Goal Setting and Reflection: Students complete a quick self-assessment at the launch of each classroom theme and set a personal goal based on their reflection. By having students reflect on their personal attitudes and behaviors in relation to each theme, I am able to assist students in identifying their strengths and weaknesses. Through our discussions, we are able to help one another develop strategies and skills that will help us achieve our goals. By writing our goals down, sharing them aloud, and returning to them to evaluate our progress, we hold one another accountable.

My Students Need Community Meetings: As we get into the school year and seem to have less and less time for all that we need to accomplish, there have been times when I have dropped my classroom meeting routine. Issues quickly begin to arise with student interactions and relationships. Someone is being rude or bossy on the playground. Lunch time is not as enjoyable as it should be. The special-area teachers are reporting that my students are having difficulty getting along. Or, I hear the way students are talking to one another in the classroom and it concerns me. When this happens, I ask myself, “What is going on with my students? I thought they knew how to treat one another.” If I have squeezed out our time for community meetings and my students are behaving poorly, I know that our classroom community is suffering.

Classroom Meeting is important to me. While I have shared with you the reasons that I'm dedicated to a community meeting, the most important one to me is simply that "my students need it" and I just can't rely on teachers in the future to have these conversations with my students. It's my responsibility to teach my students about belonging, kindness, compassion, goal setting, dealing with conflict, etc. all year long, not just at the beginning of the year.

Scheduling and finding time is always an issue for community meeting, but I find having enough time to be an issue no matter the subject area. I want to do so much! Community meeting is one of my "no matter what" routines. Later in the series, I'm going to give you some ideas about scheduling and ways that you can be creative with time as you implement community meetings. For now, just know that 15-20 minutes is doable and that 2-3 days a week still makes an impact!

Take a look at these two example lessons. If you are short on time, think about how you can pare it down.
Belonging Theme Lessons in Action (grab a freebie!)
Goal Setting in Morning Meeting

Did you catch the Introduction to My Community Meeting Series

Ready for more? 
Series Post # 2: The Design: An Overview
Series Post # 3: Why a Theme-Based Community Meeting?
Series Post # 4: Community Meeting: Materials and Resources
Series Post # 5: Launching Community Meeting at the BOY
Series Post # 6: Day by Day in the Community Meeting
Series Post # 7: Scheduling the Community Meeting
Series Post # 8: I Still Can't Fit it all In
Series Post # 9: Community Meeting Structure for Solving Classroom Problems
Series Post # 10: Justifying Your Classroom Meeting

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