Morning Meeting in the Secondary Special Education Classroom
Updated: Feb 25, 2021
Morning meeting is a staple practice in the special education classroom. Unlike morning meetings/circles that you often see, I prefer not to use this time to talk about the weather or to do calendar. Instead, I use it as a time to build community and center ourselves for the school day. Here are the seven components of morning meeting in my classroom!
Step One: Review Expectations
We use a five finger contract in our classroom. At the beginning of the school year, the students collaborate with one another to create a code of conduct for the classroom. We review these expectations all. the. time. I like to take a couple minutes to do so at the beginning of each lesson/activity, especially during morning meeting, so that they are fresh in our minds!
Step Two: Check-in
Each morning, we all (students AND staff) “check in” to reflect upon how they are feeling. This is a low-stakes time to label emotions, why we feel a certain way, and what we can do to be ready to learn throughout the school day. During this time, I encourage everyone to be completely honest. For example, if I’m feeling particularly stressed that day, I will tell my students and share some coping strategies that might help me stay calm (i.e., taking deep breaths, talking with a friend, etc.). I feel it’s important for my students to see trusted adults telling the truth, modeling that it’s okay to feel your feelings! This is also a great time to increase understanding of the zones and to provide an opportunity for students to practice coping skills as needed (i.e., if someone checks into the yellow zone, thanking them for their honesty, reminding them that it’s okay to not be in the green, and empowering them to do whatever they need to cope).
Step Three: Question of the Day
Each morning, along with checking in, I like to do a question of the day. This is typically a silly and simple “would you rather” question to get the students thinking and to encourage discussions. This portion actually targets several valuable skills, such as respecting others’ opinions, critical thinking, appropriate communication, making choices, and defending their opinion…all while thinking about whether you’d rather be stuck in an elevator with sumo wrestlers or stuck in an elevator with several bees!
Step Four: Morning Mindfulness
Morning mindfulness can vary each day. Sometimes, we’ll just engage in deep breathing while other days, we think critically about each of our five senses or engage in other mindfulness activities. I love incorporating mindfulness to cool down, tune into our senses, and pause for a minute.
Step Five: Word of the Week
I have found that by the time students are in my class, they have a solid understanding of basic emotions (i.e., happy, sad, tired, angry, etc.), but don’t necessarily know what more complex emotions (i.e., content, ecstatic, pessimistic, stressed, etc.) are called, look like, or what they mean. We use this time to focus on increasing students’ emotional vocabulary. Each week, we target one word and define it, draw it, brainstorm synonyms & antonyms, imagine scenarios in which one might experience it, and identify which zone it belongs in.
Step Six: Announcements & Daily Overview
Each of my students have an individual schedule in addition to the class schedule that is posted for everyone to see. We take this time to review what our school day looks like and to remind students of any announcements or changes they might experience.
Step Seven: Review Expectations (Again)
I know this may seem redundant, but many of our students benefit from frequent review and repetition. Just as we did at the beginning of our morning meeting, we also review our Five Finger Contract at the end, reminding students that they are expected to follow this contract for the entirety of the school day. It's a good time to also remind students of what they might be working towards, their goals, and any reinforcers!