Why Daily Classroom Meetings are Important

Special thanks to fifth grade teachers Jodi Mills, Ashlee Smith, Jennifer Dye, and Shirlee Ward for contributing to this article.

Every morning as I walk the fifth grade hallway, I see the same basic pattern: students put their backpacks away and gather their supplies for the day, teachers take attendance, organize their own supplies, and visit with students about last night’s sporting events, tv shows, homework, etc.  After the commotion subsides, everyone moves to a central location for their daily “Class Meeting.”  While this may seem trivial at first, I believe it could be the most important part of the day for these students.

I asked some of the Timberview Fifth Grade Teachers to answer a few questions about class meetings.  Here are their responses:

The Purpose of the Class Meeting 

  • Builds trust and team unity
  • Gives students time to share what they think could improve our school/classroom
  • Builds relationships, both student to student and teacher to student
  • It’s a great time to get to know each other.
  • It’s a quick check of how kids are feeling and what issues might be going on that might affect learning.
  • Gives students a time to be heard; to voice celebrations, concerns, and compliments.
  • Offers an opportunity to clarify issues and problems, and offer solutions
  • Reminders about expectations/changes to the daily schedule
  • Sets the tone for the day.

What Happens in a Fifth Grade Class Meeting?

  • “I always have students share something short at the beginning – How are you feeling on a scale of 1-10? Give a compliment to someone on our team.  Then  we check the ‘Class Meeting Box’ which is basically a parking lot for concerns.  After that we talk about what our day will look like, answer questions, and discuss important topics for the day.”

What is the Role of the Teacher in these Meetings?

  • The teacher guides students in appropriate discussion.  Students learn to share in positive ways and look for solutions, instead of just complaining.  The teacher listens to the students and tries to incorporate the suggestions and ideas into the classroom.

Outcomes of Classroom Meetings:

  • Real improvement of processes such as restroom time, dismissal procedures, and classroom rapport.
  • Students feel more ownership of their classroom and school because they see how they can make a difference.
  • Helps students deal with “Real Situations.”  A teacher shared with me a time they helped a student deal with the loss of a family pet by allowing other students to share their experiences.

Other Information Our Teachers Want You to Know about Classroom Meetings:

  • The meetings seem time consuming, but they are proactive, and save A LOT of time in the long run!
  • It might be even harder to find time to do this at the middle/high grade level, but might be even more important to their learning!
  • “I’m so happy we do this.  Kids and I love that time together, and our class is ‘kinder’ because of it.

Students deserve to have a voice when it comes to their learning.  Daily classroom meetings allow them to be heard!  In my opinion, that’s time well spent!

 

 

Two Myths About the Assistant Principal Job (Part One)

Aside

Myth Number 1: When you become a principal you’ll only deal with the bad kids.

I’ve been an assistant principal for about nine weeks.  If my job is to deal with the bad kids, I’m doing a pretty lousy job!  As a matter of fact, I’m having a hard time finding these bad kids.Image  I’m fairly certain our parents are sending us the best they’ve got.  As the comedian Tim Hawkins says, “They aren’t keeping their good kids at home and sending us the rest!”

I’ve had conversations with students who have trouble with following rules, getting along with others, or understanding instructions. But they aren’t bad.  They just need some guidance.  They may need to spend some quality time in ISS or after school detention.  We might need to visit with parents or teachers about the behavior.  Still, I believe parents are sending us their best!  

Many people believe that APs spend their entire day dealing with discipline issues.  Not true.  I spent one afternoon last week talking to students who were struggling with their grades.  We talked about how they can improve, made goals, and discussed plans for keeping track of their progress.  They aren’t bad kids.  There was no discipline issue to deal with.  They just needed to know someone cared about their academic progress.

Recently, two other students were in my office.  One was a young lady who sang the National Anthem at a pep rally.  It was amazing (like, chills down your spine amazing)!  The other student was an athlete on the 7th grade “B” football team who had a pretty exceptional game the night before.  No bad kids here, just an opportunity to pat them on the back!

Last Saturday, our band students were involved in their “All District” band auditions.  Twenty students from Timberview were selected.  I’ll be stopping these kids in the hall, at lunch, or in class to let them know how impressive their achievement is!  

Myth Number One – BUSTED!  They’re ALL good kids!

Come back next week for Myth Number Two! 

 

Timberview PALS

I’m taking a break from the blog this week, so I’ve asked the students from Timberview’s PALS Program to guest blog.  Huge thanks to Jennifer Bass and her students for taking the time to help out this week!  Here’s there story:

PALS (Peer Assistance in Leadership and Service) – We are nonjudgmental characters here to listen; we are friends to help while creating positive change, one student, one family, one school at a time.

“PALS” is a statewide leadership program that takes place in most middle schools, and Timberview is no exception. The fourteen eighth grade girls in this group are learning to listen to their peers’ problems, and help them be at ease. They resemble a close-knit family and are always there to support each other and those around them. They have already begun a tutoring program in just the fifth week of school, and plan to continue giving back by volunteering at nursing homes, helping at the Early Learning Center and going on a Leadership retreat in November. The girls in this group are dedicated, focused leaders, working hard to make their school, their community, and eventually the world a better place. All you have to say is please.

Welcome!

Welcome!  I’m excited to share with you my thoughts and experiences as I begin a new and exciting chapter in my life!

For the last twenty years I have been a music educator in Amarillo, TX., the last nine of which were at Randall High School in the Canyon School District.  To say that I loved my job as a band director would be a huge understatement!  I worked with the best staff, students, and administration I could have ever asked for, and I’m going to miss working with those people, but I’m very excited to build new relationships as an assistant principal at Timberview Middle School in the Keller School District.

A Word About the Title:

The title of my blog, “Stealing Second Base” comes from a quote by Frederick

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Wilcox; “Progress always involves risk; you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first base.”  This quote reflects both my love for baseball (particularly the Texas Rangers), and my journey to where I am now.

I’m a firm believer in taking chances.  It defines who we are.  My greatest lesson on taking chances has occurred in the weeks leading to this new chapter in my life:

My Story:

I want to make an impact in the lives of kids!  I feel like I can make the greatest impact on their lives by supporting teachers, parents, and the community through an administrative role.  For the last few years I have been actively preparing myself to leave the music education world for an administrative position.

The last few weeks have been a blur to be honest!  The assistant principal position at Timberview Middle School opened in late July, very close to the beginning of summer band for high school folks.  I knew things would have to move quickly, but I had no idea what kind of hurricane was about to take place!

I was called about the assistant principal opening on Friday, notified my supervisors about the possibility that afternoon, interviewed the following Wednesday, was offered the job on Thursday, and was approved by the school board that evening.  The next week I made the six hour drive to the Metroplex to begin my job!

Here is where the quote from above enters the story:

When I told a friend and colleague of mine about this opportunity, he was convinced I was making a huge mistake.  He actually said I wasn’t thinking rationally about this move.  Because of this I found myself constantly questioning whether I was making the right decision.  I knew that this is what I wanted for myself, and I thought it was the best thing for my family, but what if I was thinking irrationally?  What if this was a really bad decision?  I was taking a very big chance, knowing that I might regret it all!  The power of another’s words has enormous impact!

I’m a huge fan of Alison Levine, mountain climber and leadership expert.  If you aren’t familiar with her work I would encourage you to check her out.  Her leadership advice is some of the best I’ve read!

She talks about her team’s attempt to climb Mt. Everest:

After a failed attempt years earlier, they were about to reach the summit, when ahuge storm came in.  They were tempted to turn around, but made the decision to keep moving forward.  Other climbers were passing them, having turned around to go back saying, “We don’t think it’s safe.  We’re going back down.  We hope we are making the right decision.”  And she and her team said, “We are just going to

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keep going for a while longer, and we hope we are making the right decision!”  The storms got worse, but they continued, one step at a time, until they reached the summit. The leadership lesson is this: “You don’t always have to see clearly to put one foot in front of the other.”  In other words, sometimes you have to take chances!

“You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first base.” 

And so here I am, with a pretty big lead, about to steal second!  To me, stealing second is one of the most thrilling moves in baseball!  Chances are great you might be picked off, thrown out, inning over, ballgame!  But there’s also the chance you’ll be safe, runner in scoring position, single to right field, runner scores, ballgame!  And I’m ok with that!  I would much rather take a chance and be thrown out, then to have never tried!

I am thrilled to be working at Timberview!  You’d be amazed at how many talented teachers and staff there are working here!  I can’t wait to meet all the amazing students tomorrow!  I hope that I will encourage them to steal second as well!

Have a great year everybody!  I’ll keep you posted!