Classroom meetings

high school students with hands up in classroom

Classroom meetings are an effective way to help build classroom community, establish behavioral expectations and norms, as well as explore social issues that need tending to help continue supporting a thriving learning environment.

Class Meeting Guides

CREATING POSITIVE ENVIRONMENTS THROUGH CLASS MEETINGS– Diana Browning Wright

Class Meetings Creating a Safe School Starting in Your Classroom– Ophelia Project

The Classroom Meeting-PowerPoint

Articles

The Power of the Morning Meeting: 5 Steps Toward Changing Your Classroom and School Culture

Promoting Learning by Dr. Marvin Marshall – Classroom Meetings

Class Meetings-Positive Discipline

Practical Activities

Idea Title Grade Description
Weekly Agenda

2-6

An agenda where everyone has a say!
Class Meetings with a Stopwatch

K-6

An easy tip for “keeping things moving” in class meetings.
Speak Up with a Microphone

K-6

A quick idea to encourage only one speaker at a time!
Character Trait Spotlight

K-6

Focusing on positive character traits at class meetings.
“Some Things Are Scary”

2-6

This picture book is an excellent springboard for discussion in a class meeting!
Class Meeting Sign

K-6

An easy sign so that everyone knows when the class meeting is!
A Time to Spotlight Students

K-6

Spotlighting students at class meetings

Source

Visuals to Support Learning

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Positive words and intentions are crucial in building a thriving learning community.

“Language actually shapes thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  It produces fundamentally new forms of behavior.”                -Lev Vygotsky

Before you continue reading this post take a minute to read this article: The Power of Our Words by Paula Denton.

Example from the book:

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Laughter

Using Humor in the Classroom Laughter has the power to fuel engagement and help students learn By Robert McNeely

Choice

Classroom of Choice by Jonathan C. Erwin Chapter 4. Power in the Classroom: Creating the Environment

Empathy

Building Empathy in Classrooms and Schools

Body Language

Good Body Language Improves Classroom Management Successful Teachers Blend both Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

Teacher Relationships

Improving Students’ Relationships with Teachers to Provide Essential Supports for Learning Positive relationships can also help a student develop socially Sara Rimm-Kaufman, PhD, and Lia Sandilos, PhD, University of Virginia

Growth Mindset – Reframing Negative Self Talk

A growth mindset is a belief that your most basic abilities can be nurtured and developed though dedication and hard work. Talent is just the starting point. People with a positive growth mindset create a love of learning that is vital for doing great things. A positive growth mindset will also lend itself to being resilient in the face of setbacks. Failures are seen as learning opportunities to people with a positive growth mindset.

Verses

A fixed mindset is a belief that your basic qualities, like intelligence or talent, are fixed traits. People with a fixed mindset believe that talent makes people successful. Effort is secondary to brains and talent.

4 Ways to Encourage a Growth Mindset in the Classroom

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Programs that support developing positive learning environments

A promising program out of Yale University that helps supports Developing Classroom Culture is called RULER.

RULER is an evidence-based approach for integrating social and emotional learning into schools. RULER applies “hard science” to the teaching of what have historically been called “soft skills.” RULER teaches the skills of emotional intelligence — those associated with recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotion. Decades of research show that these skills are essential to effective teaching and learning, sound decision making, physical and mental health, and success in school and beyond.

The RULER Approach to Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) helps build the following skills:

Recognizing: Recognize the emotion of either yourself or of someone else in order to react in the most socially appropriate manner to help resolve the issue. This includes picking up on cues such as facial expression, words, tone, behavior, and one’s own thoughts.

Understanding:  Emotions are often triggered by events that bring upon specific emotions and thoughts. When a child understands more about what is triggering specific emotions, they are more likely to be less reactive. Understanding of emotions helps young children see how emotions affect decisions, behavior and goals. Problem-solving skills are needed to learn how to cope, as well as develop empathy towards others.

Labeling: Labeling emotions is nothing more than connecting different scenarios with a specific emotions, and descriptive words. For example, a child with emotional literacy may use the words inspired, enthusiastic, and thrilled.

Expressing: practicing control, timing, and expression of emotions in appropriate ways helps with communication development for healthy relationships. Students who have difficulties in both labeling and expression tend to not have successful relationships.

Regulating Emotions: Regulation during emotional experiences means organizing and managing the thoughts, emotions and behavior that often develop. Successfully regulated emotions are often prevented, reduced, initiated, maintained, or enhanced (PRIME). Source

PBIS

Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) is a proactive approach to establishing the behavioral supports and social culture and needed for all students in a school to achieve social, emotional and academic success. Attention is focused on creating and sustaining primary (school-wide), secondary (classroom), and tertiary (individual) systems of support that improve lifestyle results (personal, health, social, family, work, recreation) for all youth by making targeted misbehavior less effective, efficient, and relevant, and desired behavior more functional.

Practical Strategies for Common Classroom Issues

Positive Behavior Support in the Classroom: Facilitating Behaviorally Inclusive Learning Environments Terrance M. Scott, Kristy Lee Park, Jessica Swain-Bradway & Eric Landers

Relational Aggression 

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Developing friendships and maintaining healthy play is a cornerstone to a child’s education. Within the school is a safe place to practice and try out friendships and try different types of play. It is our job as parents and teachers to take advantage of the opportunities that come with peer conflict to provide the child/ children with an teachable moment. Here are some resources to support that effort.

Relational Aggression

Relational aggression (RA) is a nonphysical form of aggression whereby the perpetrator’s goal is to inflict or threaten damage to relationships, including harm to the target child’s social standing or reputation. This form of aggression may result in long-term psychological harm to victims. Source

RELATIONAL AGGRESSION – Overview

Dealing with Relational Aggression and Children: A Guide for Parents

Research Article It’s mean boys, not mean girls, who rule at school, study shows

Education Article Study: Boys, Not Just ‘Mean Girls,’ Use Relational Aggression

Little Bullies: Relational Aggression on the Playground

Resources From The Ophelia Project

Practical Strategies for Teachers- 5 STEPS for Teachers

Boys

Boys Relational Aggression Curriculum

Girls

Girls Relational Aggression Curriculum

 

Other Resources

bully

Understanding Playful vs. Hurtful Teasing and Bullying Behavior

Books

I Didn’t Know I Was a Bully (Grades K-5) Paperback – 2006

Tease Monster: A Book About Teasing Vs. Bullying (Building Relationships) Paperback –  by Julia Cook

Relational Aggression in Young Adults: Relational Aggression in Peer and Dating Relationships, Gender Difference, Attribution Bias, Emotional Distress Paperback by Violet Lim

The author Trudy Ludwig Bullying books.

How to talk to kids about the election 


So a lot of kids were shook up by the election results today. Here is a letter I received from my national organization NASP. 

Dear Fellow NASP Member, 

Today has been a day of many emotions. The NASP office and I have received numerous calls and emails from members across the country supporting students who are fearful, anxious, and feeling at-risk given the divisive tenor of the campaign. Unfortunately many schools saw negative behaviors and reactions toward minority and other students today.

I want to thank NASP members for reaching out to us for guidance and for all you are doing to support students, educators, and families. It is so imperative that we come together regardless of our own views, and unite for a safe and caring climate and community for all. We hope you find this guidance document helpful. 

Please know that we are here to help and support you. 

Sincerely,

Melissa A. Reeves, PhD, NCSP

This is the attachment she added:

NASP Guidance for Reinforcing Safe, Supportive and Positive School Environments for All Students
Our local High School Principal sent this message out:

Subject: election reactions – what do we tell the students?

Good Morning Grizzlies,
The results of this election may be very emotional for our students and for ourselves. But I am constantly moved by the support, empathy, and compassion of our school community. I have great faith in our team’s ability to guide students who may be feeling affected by yesterday’s election. If anyone is interested in some guidance for student discussions, I found this article to be useful. 
(See the “What do we tell the children” article below.)

Other resources 

Dr. Brock tv interview on how to support kids– Election has emotional effect on children, experts say.

From Boston public schools – resources 
What Do We Tell The Children?

Momtastic blog post – talk-kids-presidential-election-without-negativity

Soothing kids’ fears about a Donald Trump presidency – Chicago Tribune

What Do I Say?’: Stories From the Classroom After Election Day 

Death of a Pet

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The death of a pet can be very difficult for a family to cope with emotionally. This post has some insights and tools to use with your children to help with the process of grieving the loss of a pet.

Articles

Why The Death Of A Pet Is Especially Devastating For Children

DEATH AND GRIEF IN THE FAMILY: TIPS FOR PARENTS– NASP

Kids and Dealing with the Death of a Pet

 

7 Ways Parents Can Help a Child Through the Grief Process

1. Do not trivialize the death of a pet. Children need time and opportunity to mourn. They need their parents to validate their feelings and understand how much they miss their pet, and they may need to miss a day of school or a soccer game. “Grief is appropriate,” Segal says. “It’s how we heal from losses. Your child’s grief is an indicator that your child has learned to love.”

2. Suggest different ways to remember the pet. Your child may want to draw pictures of the pet, make a scrapbook, or create a memory box. She may want to have some sort of memorial service. She may want to place photos and mementos in a special place. Planting a tree in memory of a pet can also be comforting, Sife says.

3. Let the child’s caregivers know about the death. Inform your child’s teacher, babysitter, piano teacher, and coach. Let anyone know who might otherwise be confused by your child’s sadness. Ask teachers if anything is coming up in the curriculum that might warrant preparation—for example, will your child be studying a novel that features a pet or a death?

4. Don’t rush to replace the pet. It’s tempting to rush out and get a new dog or cat. Your child may even ask to get a new pet right away. But explain that the family needs time to mourn the loss of the pet that died.

5. Read age-appropriate children’s books that deal with pet death. There are many options, including the classic Dog Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant; the tender and touching Murphy and Kate by Ellen Howard; and I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm.

6. Let your child know it’s okay to talk about death and about the pet. If the mention of death makes you upset, your child may avoid the topic and hold his feelings in. Let your child know death is a part of life and that it’s okay to talk about it. Let him know he can talk about his beloved pet, and share your favorite happy memories of the pet with him.

7. Seek outside help if your child has a hard time coping. If your child is already dealing with stress such as divorce, a parent’s illness, difficulties at school, or a conflict with a close friend or sibling, the death of a pet can bring on a crisis, Sife says. A counselor, psychologist, or therapist may be able to help.

The stress of losing a pet and seeing your child so upset might make you wonder if a pet is worth the inevitable grief. But the process of grieving strengthens families, Segal says. “When something happens and we get through it, trust is built,” she says. “We shouldn’t take away the pain in life…the more your child feels, the better life will be. The more we feel, the more meaning we find in life.”

Dealing With a Pet’s Death for Kids of Different Ages

Children respond to death differently depending on their age. Here are some general ways children of different ages may react to a pet’s death, according to Wallace Sife, author of The Loss of a Pet and founder of theAssociation for Pet Loss and Bereavement.

  • Ages 2-3: At this age, children do not have the life experiences to give them an understanding of death. They should be told that the pet has died and will not return. Reassure your child that he did not do or say anything to cause the pet’s death. Maintain usual routines, and most young children will accept the loss without a lot of emotion.
  • Ages 4-6: Children have some understanding of death but may not comprehend the permanence of it. They may even think the pet is asleep or is continuing to eat, breathe, and play somewhere. Frequent, brief discussions about the pet’s death will allow your child to express her feelings and ask questions.
  • Ages 7-9: At this age, children know death is irreversible. They might not be afraid that they will die, but they may worry about the death of their parents. Your child may ask questions that seem morbid, which parents should answer with honesty. Their grief may manifest itself in misbehavior or antisocial behavior at school.
  • Ages 10-12: Children understand that death is natural, inevitable, and happens to all living things. They look to their parents as role models in how to react to death. At this age, children may cry a lot and need lots of comforting.
  • Teenagers: Children of this age group may show anything from an apparent total lack of concern to excessively emotional reactions. One day they want to be treated like an adult, and the next day they need to be reassured like a young child. If friends are supportive, it is much easier for them to deal with a loss.
  • Young adults: The loss of a pet for this age group can be particularly hard. Young adults may have feelings of guilt for abandoning their pets when leaving home for college, work, or marriage, and may be unable to return to the family home to say goodbye to the pet. Again, supportive friends and coworkers may help, as will allowing the individual to discuss and remember the pet with family members.

Source

Activities

I Miss My Pet: A workbook for children about pet loss

My Pet is Gone

My Pet Died: A Coloring Book for Grieving Children $2.00

Books That Help Kids Cope

  1. I’ll Always Love You, by Hans Wilhelm. A boy and his pet dachshund grow up together, but one morning the dog doesn’t wake up. This tender book will touch any family who’s ever had to say goodbye to an old dog.
  2. The Tenth Good Thing About Barney, by Judith Viorst. After a little boy’s cat dies, the family plans a funeral, and the boy is asked to recall ten good things about his pet.
  3. When a Pet Dies, by Fred Rogers. This direct but sensitive book includes color photos of kids and encourages children to share their feelings of loss.Source

 

Disability Awareness Activities

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Building awareness with all kids to help them better understand the world around them is a should be a priority for schools. It is quite normal for kids to be curious about other children who may use special materials / equipment or behave/ learn differently. It is our role as parents, teachers, and citizens to support the kids in their understanding of these differences. Social Emotional Learning under the guidelines of CASEL should be a pillar in your school plan.

Philosophy

Special Education: Promoting More Inclusion at Your School

Disability Awareness- Resources

CASEL guide

Materials

Disability Awareness Activity Packet-Activities and Resources for Teaching Students About Disabilities

Understanding Disabilities

Disabilities Awareness Teacher Toolkit

DISABILITY 101: Increasing Disability Awareness and Sensitivity

Teacher’s Reference Book – Special Stories for Disability Awareness: Stories and Activities for Teachers

by Mal Leicester, Jane Dover (Contributions by)

Parenting resources

Disability Awareness: 10 Things Parents Should Teach Their Kids About Disabilities

Teaching Your Child About Peers With Special Needs

walk a mile in their shoes (Bullying Awareness)

Books

The AUTISM ACCEPTANCE BOOK

STARABELLA NARRATED PICTURE BOOKS WITH MUSIC (Ages 2-8)

Elementary Books

“Andy and His Yellow Frisbee”  by  Mary Thompson   Pre-k -3rd
“Be Good to Eddie Lee ” by Virginia Filling   Pre-k -3rd
“Arnie & the New Kid ” by Nancy Carlson   Pre-k -3rd
“Danny and the Merry-go-Round” by Nan Holcomb   Pre-k -3rd
“Let’s Talk about It” by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos   Pre-K – 3rd
“Leo the Late Bloomer” by Robert Kraus   Pre-k -3rd
“Fair and Square” by Nan Holcomb   1st – 2nd
“I’m like You, You’re like Me” by Cindy Gainer   1st – 2nd
“We can do it!  by Laura Dwight   1st – 2nd
“Rolling Along: The story of Taylor and his Wheelchair”  by Jamee Heelan   1st – 5th
“Adam and the Magic Marble”  by Adam and Carol Buehrens   2nd – 6th

Middle and High School Disability Awareness Book Review

are you alone on purpose?” By Nancy Werlin. Allison and Adam are twins but Adam has Autism and Allison is gifted. Their parents start going to synagogue and there they meet Harry, the Rabbi’s son, who is a bully and very mean to Adam. When Harry is injured and ends up in a wheelchair he becomes more vulnerable and Allison and Harry become friends. This is a moving story about learning about disabilities but toward the end there are a few cuss words. The story itself is marvelous, but due to some harsh language it is more for high school students.

Don’t Stop The Music by Robert Perske. This novel is exciting and a fun adventure that teaches about physical disabilities and perceptions of able-bodied individuals toward people with disabilities. It has a crime mystery imbedded in a disability awareness book. This book would be wonderful for middle school students as well as young high school students.

head above water”  by S.L. Rottman. This novel is about a 16-year-old girl with an 18-year-old brother with Down Syndrome. Their mother works two jobs to make ends meet and therefore Skye takes on most of the caretaking activities with Sunny. This story highlights how it is having a sibling with a disability. Skye has her first boyfriend and having a brother who she needs to take care of gets in the way of her teenage life. There is some serious storyline as her new boyfriend pressures her to have sex and almost rapes her. It is wonderful how Skye defends herself and sticks up for what she believes in, however, this book would be appropriate for high school only due to the mature storyline.

Petey” by Ben Mikaelsen. This novel examines the notion that people with physical disabilities are often assumed to have cognitive disabilities when they often do not. This story starts in the early part of the 1900s and follows Petey Corbin though living in an institution and then a nursing home. It is a delightful journey that clearly shows how non-disabled people often are frightened of people with disabilities until they get to know them. It is a particularly good book for boys and is appropriate for both middle and high school students.

Rules” by Cynthia Lord. This is a Newbery Honor Book and Schneider Family Book Award winner. The story follows a brother with autism and a sister who shares a lot of responsibility for teaching her bother the rules of getting along in a world that does not always have compassion and understanding for someone with autism. Catherine creates rules to help David understand how to live in the world. Catherine also learns a few lessons about other disabilities. This is an excellent book for middle and high school alike.

Views from our Shoes” Edited by Donald Meyer. This is a compilation of forty-five (45) short narratives of siblings of children with disabilities and how they view living with their siblings.
It is a nice view from children as young as four to as old as eighteen. This book is appropriate for middle and high school students.

Wish on a Unicorn” by Karen Hesse. This novel uses imagination and wishes to explore the dreams of children living in poverty with a sibling with a disability. The relationship between the children and how protective they are of their sister with a cognitive disability is heart warming. It would be an easy novel to do writing activities with. What would you wish for if you found a unicorn? How would you handle a bully? This story lends itself to middle and high school students.

The Summer of the Swans” by Betsy Byars. Newberry Award Winner. This novel tells the story of a family that includes a boy with a cognitive disability. This is a short book that easily shows the family dynamics and how it is to be a sibling of a child with a disability. This is a good book for middle school level.

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