Principal’s Corner: Student learning starts in meeting

Published 11:56 pm Friday, September 22, 2017

Principal’s Corner by Nick Sofio

The bell rings, signaling the start of the school day. Students rush into the school and excitedly reach their classroom, ready to begin their day of learning. Their teacher greets them at the door and gets them settled in for our morning announcements. Then students will gather in a circle for one of the most important parts of the day — morning meeting.

The mission of Albert Lea Area Schools states: “To ensure individual academic, social and emotional growth that leads to engaged citizens and lifelong learners. Our staff works thoroughly, purposefully and diligently throughout the year to prepare our students to be successful and productive citizens — no matter their age or grade level.”

Nick Sofio

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When it comes to addressing social and emotional learning, Lakeview (and other Albert Lea elementary schools) utilizes an approach called responsive classroom. Responsive classroom, found in many elementary classrooms world-wide, focuses on social-emotional learning and its positive impact on student learning, engagement and classroom climate.

Morning meeting is just one practice that makes the responsive classroom approach a successful program. These first 20 minutes of the day creates opportunities for students to establish trust, teamwork and collaboration, and empower each student voice with decision making within the classroom. Under the guidance of the classroom teacher, morning meeting incorporates four structured components which aid in developing a positive learning community.

Greeting: Students welcome and greet each other.

Sharing: Students share something about themselves, and their classmates ask questions or offer comments.

Activity: Students participate in a group activity that typically promotes teamwork, collaboration and problem-solving.

Morning message: A short message from their teacher is read. The message is usually interactive for the students, connects to learning from previous days and shares an overview of the day.

It is within this circle that a foundation is created for a positive community of learners, helpers and problem solvers through cooperation, assertion, responsibility, empathy and self-control, or CARES.

Morning meeting, as the first activity of the day, is a fun and energizing way for students to develop and practice important social and emotional skills that carry over to the rest of the day.

Nick Sofio is the principal of Lakeview Elementary School.