Every day starts the same in first grade. The predictability of our morning routine gets students excited and prepared for our day. We begin our day with a 30-minute morning meeting, called morning crew. While its structure and essential components remain the same, the lessons and students’ deeper understanding vary.
Morning crew is a great time to teach DAA’s Habits of Character- responsibility, compassion, cooperation, curiosity and creativity, integrity, and perseverance. These Habits of Character are embedded into learning targets specifically created for our crew. These “I can” statements give students an understanding of the desired outcome. Each week we have one learning target that allows students to really understand, experience, and by the end of the week, articulate the more specific aspects of the very general Habit of Character.
We are spending the entire month of November focusing on responsibility. Each week through various learning targets, students gain knowledge about the different components that encompass responsibility. An example of one of our weekly learning targets is: “I can show responsibility by staying focused and resisting distractions.” While the learning targets change from week to week, they build on each other and are continuously referred to and talked about.
The routine of our Crew meeting remains the same. We begin each morning crew meeting with a greeting. The greeting allows students to name each person in our circle, while at the same time, have fun. Greetings vary from a singing to a chant, to a creative animal greeting, to even showing off a dance move! Greetings are a fun way to engage, energize, and entertain.
Following the greeting, we have a share. In our room, share time lets students at each table have their own day to bring in something special from home to share with our crew. It’s a modern-day “show and tell.” Students are really thoughtful about the items they bring in and complete a questionnaire before their share to get their minds thinking of why they chose their specific object and the details they might want to share about it. So far students have brought in books they have created at home, their favorite toy, a special stuffed animal, and even a family photo! After a student presents his or her share item, they are able to respond to three questions from the crew. This opportunity allows students to make connections and learn more about their classmates.
Next up in our meeting is our initiative (the main activity). It is during this time that students can display their understanding of the habit of character we’re focused on. For example, during our Statues initiative, students found ways to show responsibility. The class split up into two groups, movers and statues. Statues have to stay perfectly still without laughing, while movers try everything they can to distract the statues and get them to lose focus, laugh or move. Students who are statues realize they need to put their imaginary blinders on and resist distractions. Before we switch roles, we think of additional ways we can resist our movers distractions. Some suggestions students come up with are; staying laser focused on an object, picking a comfortable position, and thinking about being the last one standing. These suggestions require students take responsibility for their actions.
Following our activity we debrief and discuss what went well and how a can improve. We also connect how our activity relates to the classroom. Students learn that they can resist any distraction that might happen in our classroom by putting on their "blinders", staying laser focused, and by thinking about what's important--in this case, taking responsibility and learning!
We finish our morning crew meeting with a short written message letting students know what they can expect throughout the day ahead! Overall, our meeting serves as a classroom community builder and definitely sets the tone for the day!