Community culture has been the foundation of each Leighton Elementary School classroom since the beginning of the 2018-19 school year.
To create a sense of acceptance and belonging, Leighton teachers have implemented Morning Meetings each day, following a responsive classroom training workshop during the summer.
Third grade teacher Michelle McManus said several of her students have latched onto the routine and have blossomed socially, emotionally and therefore, academically.
“I want them to know that the classroom is a safe place and we are a family,” she said.
Despite the struggles children may have at home and outside of school, McManus said, Morning Meeting is designed to bring everyone together and provide comfort.
She said the natural outcome is a reduction in poor behavior/choices and a boost for their foundational and social/emotional skill-building.
Morning Meetings are an engaging way to begin each school day, typically within a 20-minute timeframe, where four main purposes occur: greeting one another by name, sharing information about oneself to recognize the importance of empathy for others, participating in a group activity which fosters cohesion and skill practice without students always realizing they’re learning and a morning message for students to read and interact with one another and their teacher.
“It’s fun to learn a lot about each other,” said student Sasha Cloonan.
McManus said the academic component that is woven into Morning Meetings time has related to curriculum ques, such as: speaking in complete sentences, re-stating questions in responses and eventually speaking in paragraph form.
All of those can also be utilized in writing lessons.
The days also end with a closing circle to have the class re-group and offer support.