Greetings, Shares and Activities. Morning Meetings at Linda Vista.

One of the things I noticed immediately about the children in Linda Vista School is that they had a strong sense of community and they bonded as classmates.  The students grades K-6 shared a classroom, played together outside, and didn't group solely by age when they had down time. They walked together to school and appeared to treat eachother more like siblings than schoolmates.  This is a benefit I have noticed of small schools and villages.   I thought about this a lot, as I often wonder how we can get our own boys to develop stronger relationships with the students in other grades at Town School.  Our families and buddies programs are certainly a start, but how can we foster authentic relationships cross grade level?  If we teach them how to work together, collaborate, problem solve and communicate, will developing these relationships happen naturally?  Can we find more ways for them to interact?  Should we?   

Last summer I had the opportunity to participate in a week long conference called, Developmental Designs.  For those in education who aren't familiar with the program but may have heard of Responsive Classroom, Developmental Designs is as close as you get to the middle school equivalent.  Kristen and I have both been through the respective trainings.  

Transformed by the conference, I immediately implemented what I had learned in my classroom and I began running morning meetings in the 10 minutes I had each morning.  While my understanding of DD morning meetings was to strengthen the community and build social emotional skills, it was unfortunate that I only had 10 minutes every morning to work with this group of boys.  We tried our best.  At the end of the year, I felt that the daily meeting definitely helped build a stronger community but only allowed us to touch on the social emotional skills. Moving forward, I am grateful that alongside my colleagues, and with the support of the administration, we will be moving to a stronger advisory program next year.  

During our initial few days in Chilamate, I found that a lot of conversations we had in regard to education went back to the need for social emotional learning in our classrooms.  Randall and I spoke at length about using experiential learning and we shared with him Developmental Designs and Responsive Classroom.  When asked to do a lesson for the students of Linda Vista I immediately suggested that we share our morning meeting program as both Kristen and I do morning meetings in our respective classrooms grade 1 and 5.  It felt important to share with the students how we begin our own day at Town.  We spent two mornings sharing our Circle of Power and Respect, morning greeting, group share and an activity to follow.  When we arrived at school Day 2, it was heartwarming to see the excitement in the students eyes as they shrieked excitedly about our arrival.   

I apologise in advance that the video coverage is less than perfect.  The iphone acted as our camera and sometimes got fussy with the humidity.  In addition, I wanted the students to act "normal" and not act up for the camera so we tried to play it down that we were taping at all.  Makes for a harder video on the eye.  But it shows the point:)