Make time for class meetings

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:

  1. Connecting (to each other, to the class, to the school)
  2. Deciding (making important decisions – whether the decision is made democratically or whether I make the decision after considering student input)
  3. Planning (upcoming class activities and lessons)
  4. 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

2 thoughts on “Make time for class meetings

  1. Hello Mr. Rice. I hope that you are doing very well. I am currently an EDM 310 student from the University of South Alabama. I really liked your idea of having class meetings. I do not think they would be as effective in an elementary classroom as they are in your high school classroom but still a wonderful idea. High school students like being able to make decision and being apart of the decisions that are made for them. I like the fact that you put so much time and effort into listening to your students. This is a great model blog post for other teachers to read and learn from. Thank you.

  2. Victoria,

    I think class meetings have value at all grade levels. Students of all ages appreciate having a say in what happens in their classroom. Class meetings can also help to address important classroom management or discipline situations. The key is to be willing to go through the process with the kids and not dominating the discussion. That is the hardest part!

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