If I could only use one aspect from Responsive Classroom, I would choose Morning Meeting. Morning Meeting has created an environment in my classroom that I love not only witnessing, but being a part of. We use responsive Classroom in our district, however, this is not an infomercial for Responsive Classroom. :) I just love what it has done for my classroom community.
There are four components to Responsive Classroom's Morning Meeting. The greeting, sharing, activity, and the message. With the time constraints placed on us, it is difficult to get to all sections every day. The sections I make sure I get to are the greeting and sharing.
Most days my students treat their peers with respect and kindness. The majority of them are very mindful of the way they treat each other. I believe a lot of that comes from the way we start our day. Every morning the students greet each other in a variety of ways and share something from their lives. Morning Meeting helps us start each day on a positive note.
The other day I decided to try the "Compliment" greeting. Students greeted each other, and offered a compliment. I told my students I didn't want them to use bland terms such as, "I like your dress", but to really think about something they liked about the person they were complimenting. I was blown away by the sincerity in their statements. It allowed me to see that Morning Meeting wasn't just something to get through, that it actually affected the way my students interacted with each other.
Sharing is another favorite. Some days only 3 kids share, some days, they are allowed to pass or share. No pressure.:) The other day, a student shared how she was trying to get into a specialized school. She stated that the previous night she practiced her monologue diligently. Immediately, the other kids encouraged her to share the monologue. We all listened intently as she performed, and when she finished, there was thunderous applause.
One of my students, whom had clashed with this young lady a number of times throughout the school year, raised his hand. He said, "I just want you to know, I can tell by your monologue that you are going to be a great actor." Surprised, her eyes widened, a grin spread across her face. She was surprised at this statement from her "nemesis", and she said, "Why thank you." You could tell how moved she was by his statement.
I was moved. This is what I am trying to build in my classroom. I strongly believe that teaching them to be caring, respectful, human beings is just as important as the rest of the curriculum. Teaching them to get along, and care for, and about, someone besides themselves. It is so much easier to teach, and learn, in a classroom where students believe they are part of a family, and not just bodies in the room. When there is a sense of community it leads to caring!