Tips for Morning Meetings and Class Meetings

What’s Here

Many teachers incorporate class meetings or morning meetings into their everyday classroom routines. These daily gatherings can be incredible tools for modeling and reinforcing both academic and social skills. This page will give you ideas for setting up your meeting area and provides tips for running morning meetings that set a positive tone for the day.

What to Do During Class Meetings


Some teachers use morning meetings primarily for socio-emotional development and others focus entirely on academic skills, while other teachers address both areas to varying extents. In early childhood classrooms, class meetings are often called Circle Time, and consist of a greeting song, calendar, weather, a review of the daily schedule, class news, and sometimes a group team-building activity. Primary classrooms sometimes include a combination of these elements are more in-depth calendar math.

I’ve also held afternoon meetings, which take 2-3 minutes and involve a time of personal and/or shared reflection on what students learned and accomplished during the day. I once read that the hug at the end of the day is as important as the greeting in the morning, and I tried to always end things on a positive note with my kids.

Regardless of what time of day you choose to hold meetings or what you focus on during that time, I feel that having a regular (if not daily) routine in which students gather together on the rug or carpet to interact is a very powerful concept. It’s a great alternative to keeping kids at their desks or tables all day, and it’s often easier to keep kids focused when they’re sitting at your feet rather than across the room.

Start With a Greeting

I’ve held a variety of class meetings with my students (including students in the upper elementary grades) to build community and establish the day’s agenda. To set the right tone, we would always start with a greeting activity.

In the beginning of the year when I was still establishing behavioral expectations, I liked to start with a very simple greeting. Usually I’d teach students to say ‘good morning’ in different languages and we’d practice shaking hands and saying greeting each other. I’d introduce a different language each week for about a month, and then the fifth week, let students choose which language they’d like to use.

The next greeting I typically introduced would usually prove to be one of the most popular: the One Minute Greeting. I’d set a timer for one minute and the students would try to greet each person in the class (using a verbal greeting including the person’s name,a  smile, eye contact, and a handshake or hug). It was a lot of fun and really created a sense of being a family, and I loved that it took so little time!

You can see a 4th grade example of the One Minute Greeting in the video below by Responsive Classroom. The video clip does not show the entire process of explaining the greeting to students or what happens when the timer goes off, which is unfortunate. However, I like the way this teacher models the technique with three students before having the whole class practice. Take note of how she debriefs afterward–this is a good example of how to establish morning meeting routines:

Experiment with different greeting activities and encourage children to come up with their own! For more ideas, you can download some excellent morning greetings here.

Social Problem-Solving and Review of Behavioral Expectations

Morning meeting is a fantastic time to hold problem-solving sessions that address class issues such as bullying, name-calling, misuse of playground equipment, hallway behavior problems, etc. I loved knowing that morning meeting was a set time in our class devoted to solving problems because I rarely had to take away instructional time during the day to address issues. I’d often incorporate read-alouds, such as the ones featured on the 5 Pro-Active Strategies page, and facilitate discussion based on the books.

I also tried to include some sort of sharing time in which students could talk about important things happening in their lives (kind of like a show and tell without the ‘show’, so as not to emphasize materialism and a sense of competition). The children would talk about what they dreamed the night before, share a poem or drawing they’d created, show a photo of something they’d done over the weekend, or talk about something funny that happened when they were very little. Afterward, they would take three comments or questions, which was a time to build both receptive and expressive oral language skills and reinforce social norms. One year, I kept this sharing time separate from the meeting and allowed students to eat their snacks during it. This was a nice mid-morning break and helped maintain the sense of collaboration that we’d started building in the morning meeting.

Incorporating Academic Routines

A class meeting is also a perfect opportunity to conduct routine practice exercises, such as calendar math (Everyday Math, Every Day Counts, etc.)  The key to making this interesting for students day after day is a quick pace and fun activities that they look forward to. Varying the routine a bit over time is also very important.

Here’s a video of how a kindergarten teacher keeps morning meeting fast-paced and exciting. There are a number of other morning meeting videos on YouTube but this was one of the few that I felt consistently demonstrated effective teaching practices. This teacher utilizes lots of whole brain teaching techniques, which means you’ll see how she keeps all her students actively involved. This clip is actually part two: she review class rules, then moves into calendar math, weather, and other academic concepts. You can view part one of the clip here, in which she demonstrates how students move from their desks to the rug in an orderly way and begin the meeting. Her teaching style is more high-energy and regimented than mine, but I just love how all the students are so on-task and engaged–very impressive!

Decorating and Arranging Your Class Meeting Area

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After you’ve determined the purpose of your class meetings, you can create an area that supports your goals. Be sure to design the space so that your materials are close at hand and students can easily see the props and materials you’ll be using. I prefer to have assigned seats for students (written on tape for early childhood classrooms) to make sure that students aren’t seated near people that will get them off-task. By the middle of the school year, I let kids choose their spots (and change them whenever there is a problem), although I did reserve the right to overrule if I thought the choice wasn’t working out.

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Here are some photos of how real teachers have set up their meeting areas (click to enlarge).

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Mrs. Witt, 1st Grade. I like the tubs for big book storage, and the fact that everything is so neat and organized.

Mrs. Ginter, 1st Grade. I always feel like I’ve got too many materials for group gatherings and no place to put them: how smart to include a table and bookshelf for that purpose!

1st Grade. I also like the idea of having the gathering place so close to the teacher’s desk–very convenient.

1st Grade. Similar concept here: this teacher took the rolling chair away from her desk and put it to better use here.

Mrs. Fransceze, 2nd Grade Gifted. What a cute mini director’s chair! She uses it for when students read their writing or share things with the class.

Mrs. Karp, Kindergarten. Posters/ chart papers are taped to hangers that hook onto a suspended piece of string–very smart!


Mrs. Buckley, Kindergarten . You could never fall asleep in this classroom! I like the daily news chart on the left.

Ms. Witt, 1st Grade. An organized and attractive Calendar Math display.

Mrs. Joyce, 1st Grade. Sorry for the blur! See if you can make out the week’s word wall words on the right–they’re hanging there by clothespins. I also like the magnetized place value pieces, and the way she used borders to create various sections of the whiteboard. Below the board it looks like they did some kind of counting activity for each month.

Mrs. Widelitz, 3rd Grade. What a great use of space–these shelves fit perfectly under the boards and the teacher says the kids are easily able to reach over them to write.

Recommended Resources

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These 4 books are especially good for primary grade teachers, but I got a lot out of them for my third graders, too. All are excellent resources, especially “The Morning Meeting Book”. (Here you can download the morning greetings appendix of “The Morning Meeting Book” which was formerly available on the Stenhouse website.)

This book focuses on having children reflect on their learning. The concepts are very powerful.

A blog post from one of my favorite bloggers, Organized Chaos, on the results of a lovely morning meeting compliment activity.

Marvin Marshall’s “Discipline Without Stress” website has a fantastic document on the importance of class meetings and includes practical tips on how to run them. Much of my thinking about this topic has been influenced by him.

This PDF from Responsive Clasroom (love, love, love RC!) has tons of info on morning meetings and even includes photos.

Now What?

Visit the main Routines and Procedures page
See how to help kids transition in and out of the classroom on the Arrival/Dismissal Routines page
Learn how to set up predictable daily routines on the Bathroom, Hall, and Water Fountain page
Create an efficient system for managing paper procedures on the Passing Out/Collecting Papers page
See how to establish a classroom culture of motivation on the ‘Rewarding Kids in the 21st Century’ post
Visit the main Behavior Management page
Discover how to prevent behavior problems before they start on the 5 Pro-Active Strategies page
Find ways to instill strong moral values in your students on the Character Education page
Explore a fun and simple whole-class behavior management plan on the The Bead System page
Check out another whole-class management plan on the World’s Easiest Token System page

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Angela Watson was a classroom teacher for 11 years and has turned her passion for helping other teachers into a career as an educational consultant based in Brooklyn, NY. As founder of Due Season Press and Educational Services, she has published 3 books, launched a blog and webinar series, designs curriculum resources, and conducts seminars in schools around the world. Subscribe via email for blog updates, exclusive tips & tricks, activities, printables, and more.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Deirdre Karcher August 31, 2011 at 7:44 pm

Thank you, thank you. thank you! I was assigned grade one as of last Tuesday. I spent three days cleaning out the closet ( found lots of treasures) and two setting up. Your site is now giving me a lot of great ideas and strategies.

Have a good day!

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2 Angela Watson September 3, 2011 at 2:01 pm

That’s wonderful to hear, Deirdre! You are very welcome!

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3 jimmynastic December 7, 2011 at 3:22 am

This site has given me plenty of ideas too thanks alot

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4 dennis December 7, 2011 at 3:27 am

I have been searching for such broad content for a very long time

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5 Andrea February 25, 2012 at 11:09 am

The Info on classroom meetings from disciplinewithoutstress.com that you mentioned about is actually by Marvin Marshall (not Marvin Martin). I have purchased his book and follow his program in my classroom!!! LOVE IT!!! Highly recommend checking out his site marvinmarshall.com!! Lots of printables about his program.

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6 Angela Watson February 25, 2012 at 11:21 am

Thanks so much for sharing that–I made the correction! :-)

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7 Sharon Cahoon-Winter August 21, 2013 at 7:14 pm

Angela
I always learn so much from you. You think you know so much but then again you just never know. I always thought I had the best room arrangement, but looking at the pictures on this post and I can see some really wonderful and creative ideas, especially for circle time organization. Thanks again! This was a very helpful post!

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8 Alisher October 4, 2013 at 2:23 am

Assalomu alaykum! Dear Angela

My name is Alisher and I’m marketing manager of Jahon Study educational center in Tashkent – the capital of Uzbekistan. We are going to launch a new direction – preschool education – under our education center. That was very helpful to me as I got many useful info about how to arrange a room layout and decoration. Thank you very much!

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9 TARA February 18, 2014 at 9:31 am

THANKS A MILLION. I LOVE IT

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