Class Meetings Matter

Class meetings matter.  I understand that sometimes there are not enough minutes in the day. I realize that we have to make choices each week how to best use our instructional time.  After a series of shortened weeks, I feel like I’ve been in a time crunch and forced to omit some of our routines, one of them being class meetings.

Finally, I found the time for us to having a meeting yesterday afternoon.  As my students discussed peer relationships, problems, and plans for new learning it was obvious they needed this time to exchange ideas and reestablish our collaborative unit.  Kids acknowledged and celebrated the successes of their peers.  They addressed issues ranging from “respecting the markers” (i.e., putting the caps back on) to remembering to “share the air” when someone is speaking.

About 10 minutes into the conversation one child said, “I have a confession to make.”  All eyes turned to the speaker and my students provided this child their full attention. “I use to be a bully.”  The child continued speaking, “I didn’t know what I was doing was called bullying, but now I see that the way I acted was bullying.”  I made an in-the-moment decision to let my students take the lead on how this conversation would continue.  In a split second, I heard another child say, “It’s ok.  We forgive you.  Everyone makes mistakes.”

The confessor continued, “No, it’s not ok.  I use to just get mad and angry and be mean.  But now I’ve learned to control my actions and talk it out.  You guys don’t have to say that it is ok; I just wanted to say I’m sorry and thank you to all the people in this room who supported me and helped me to be a better friend.”

My eyes grew wide.  I didn’t know what to say.  Before I had time to think, another child across the room shouted, “Well, that sure feels good!”

Out of the mouths of babes, right?

Suddenly kids were high-fiving and giggling.  The tide had turned.  We were all back on the same page.  We knew who we were and what we needed to do to move forward as learners and friends.  How had I let this need for communication and collaboration pass us by?

My students had once again shared their power and taught each other.  This was a good reminder that I need to provide these risk-free opportunities for students to speak and share, as they are the fabric of our community and not just something to be done once in a while. My kids need many opportunities to understand that they have a voice and that their voice matters.

As I think ahead to next week’s lessons, I know there is a lot to do.  Ancient China inquiries, book trailers, the math lab and Read Across America, just to name a few.  Will we get it all done?  Probably not.  Will we have time for a class meeting?  You better believe it!

About Kristin

Kristin Ziemke has spent her career teaching and learning from children in both urban and suburban school districts. A first grade teacher in Chicago, Kristin engages students in authentic learning experiences where reading, thinking, collaboration and inquiry are at the heart of the curriculum. Co-author of Connecting Comprehension and Technology, Kristin pairs best practice instruction with digital tools to transform learning in the classroom and beyond. An Apple Distinguished Educator, National Board Certified Teacher and Chicago’s 2013 Tech Innovator of the Year, Kristin seeks opportunities to transform education through technology innovation. She inspires educators around the globe as a staff developer, speaker and writer. To learn more about her work follow her on Twitter @KristinZiemke.
This entry was posted in Classroom Environment, Classroom Management, Collaboration, Self Reflection, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Class Meetings Matter

  1. Holly Mullenix-Stack says:

    Wow, Kristin! Thank you so much for sharing that lesson with us.
    I absolutely LOVE it when those moments happen. I usually question myself with who is being taught more in that moment…me, the teacher or my students? Who can really say? An incredible moment, nonetheless…

  2. Kristin says:

    Right? I totally had that same feeling! I was learning so much about my students…they are growing up! At the same time, I was gathering valuable information to use for future teaching.
    It is such a good reminder to slow down and listen! I’ve found that when things start “bubbling up” in my classroom it’s usually because we haven’t taken enough opportunities to connect deeply…. Even though we know that is important, moments like this really hit home the rationale for teaching this way.
    Thanks for your comment!

  3. Tasha Cowdy says:

    Lovely, heart-warming post! Thank you for reminding me of the importance of making time for class meetings. They are sometimes the first thing to get dropped in a packed schedule.

  4. Kristin says:

    Thanks for the comment Tasha!
    Even though we know it is valuable, it is ofter the first thing to get dropped :( We’ve got to remind each other and work to make class meetings a priority! They do matter.
    It’s funny how Katie and I are both blogging about slowing down–it must be that time of year!
    Take care!

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