Today my classes held their first class meetings of the year.
What do I mean by class meetings? All of my students (1oth and 11th graders) and me seated in a circle talking about our class.
I am now kicking myself for not having started this ritual much sooner. There is incredible value in sitting in a circle and discussing issues that are important to the group!
Class meetings serve four important purposes:
- Connecting (to each other, to the class, to the school)
- Deciding (making important decisions – whether the decision is made democratically or whether I make the decision after considering student input)
- Planning (upcoming class activities and lessons)
- Reflecting (looking back on previous lessons and activities)
The process of these meetings is critical. My goal is to establish a classroom culture where my students feel valued and respected. I want them to feel that they have some control over the direction of our class. I want to empower them to make important decisions (not just token ones).
It’s also a great chance to model and reinforce good behaviors and positive contributions to the group. Yes these meetings do take time. Anything of value does.
You can learn a lot by forcing yourself to be a listener in your own classroom.
More resources on class meetings:
Alfie Kohn – Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community
Donna Styles – Class Meetings