Let me start by saying that I love class meetings. In my opinion, they are absolutely essential in any classroom environment. Kids NEED a place to share, talk about problems, and CELEBRATE their excellent work and behavior.
So, what is a class meeting? Every morning we gather together in a circle.
Some years I've done this toward the end of the day, but this year it works best to start the day off with a class meeting. We start by singing Make New Friends, and we are learning this in sign language as well. I usually have the kids begin sharing some compliments. We learn what a compliment is and how to express thanks to someone for their work or behavior. Right now, many kids are saying things like, "I'd like to compliment Joe for taking care of me when I fell down. He came running over and asked me if I was ok and then walked me to the recess teacher." Some kids are simply not comfortable sharing something like this in front of the group, so I never require everyone to share. At this time, it's completely optional. If we have a group with soft voices, we use a microphone so everyone can hear.
Talking Bear (pictured below) helps us to know when it's our turn to speak and when it's our turn to listen. We pass him around and the person who is holding him should be the only person speaking.
We have 3 rules at Cascade View.
1. Take care of yourself.
2. Take care of others.
3. Take care of our school and community.
We use visuals to help us remember these rules and we PRACTICE them in some way during our class meetings. Puppets are a favorite way for us to practice, but we also do lots of role play and even have some short videos to help us remember. (For other teachers who may read this blog, I purchased some great posters and small cards from TPT that we use during class meetings.)
In addition, class meetings are a place to discuss problems. We work on presenting problems without talking about other kids by name. For example, we practice saying, "SOMEONE took my spot at Center Time and then I didn't have anywhere to work." Then, kids will help that person come up with ways they could have solved the problem.
I could go on about class meetings forever! They are such a powerful tool for kids in the classroom. Even in a class as young as kindergarten!