How do you start your day with students?
Maybe you put out morning work to review yesterday’s math lesson. Perhaps you have a fun coloring worksheet for students, or hands-on centers. Whatever you’re currently doing, it’s time to start incorporating morning meeting! More specifically, a trauma informed morning meeting.
The basic principles of a morning meeting are:
Morning meetings offer incredible benefits for all of our students. It’s the perfect opportunity to start your day on a positive note!
What if there’s a missed opportunity here, though? What if morning meetings could be even more impactful? What if we can make our morning meetings trauma supportive?
THAT would be incredibly powerful!
So, let’s review the trauma informed hierarchy:
Morning meeting is a perfect time to incorporate all of these skills! My morning meeting has changed drastically over the years, but the foundation of integrating these principles remain the core. So, you’re probably wondering how we do it?
Find our what works for your students! Bring them into a circle, have them sit on the floor, in a chair, fan out against the wall…whatever position helps your students feel safe, use it. You may also want to ask trauma-affected students if they would be more comfortable next to a teacher or a particular friend (of course use caution with this one!). Building agency in our students to advocate for their safety is our number #1 priority.
What good is a gathering of peers if we can’t focus on emotions? Yup, you gotta go deep! We should be creating safe spaces in our classrooms that both teach emotional intelligence directly and allow for natural discussion surrounding emotions. We can facilitate these conversations with our students, in a trauma informed way, by providing opportunities to check-in during morning meeting. Ask a probing question to recall a time when they felt a certain emotion and share it, or discuss moments of frustration at school and brainstorm possible strategies to work through them.
Gathering students in a group and doing a fun handshake isn’t enough to build meaningful relationships. For students with trauma histories, making, and keeping, friends can feel like a mountain to climb. Most won’t even want to try. Morning meeting is a great way to politely encourage these interactions. We can encourage students to greet each other, maintain eye contact, give compliments, and play a game.
The possibilities of morning meeting are incredibly vast. The truth is, we can create so much meaning in just a few minutes over hours of “teaching.”
Morning meeting is not just for elementary classrooms either, if that’s what you’re thinking. Although the format may change, doing morning meeting with middle and high school is just as important. In my middle school classroom, I had students open up about traumatic events, what they were struggling with, and how school was hard for them.
How to begin
Community is built on trust and consistency. Students with trauma may not trust this process at first and it may be quite a while until you find your groove. One tip I have is to start slowly. In the beginning of the school year (or whenever you begin!), start with 1 or 2 components. As students become more comfortable with the format, add something else in. For example, you may start with a “hello” or “good morning” greeting followed by a compliment. The first couple of weeks, you may allow students to simply say, “I’m happy you’re here today.” As the days or weeks progress, and students build social skills, they can graduate to more genuine and meaningful compliments.
The important thing to remember is to make clear that your morning meeting is a safe space for students to share, connect, and learn. It’s an opportunity to practice regulation, security, advocating, and much more.
If you’re seeing the value here and want to incorporate morning meeting into your routine, check this out! My Morning Meeting Cheat Sheet gives you a rundown of the components of a morning meeting, plus a planning sheet! Grab it for free here!
Drop a comment below sharing what you’re excited to add to your morning meeting! If you’re a pro, tell me what your favorite part is!