Our morning meeting series continues with some thoughts, ideas and tips for the morning meeting sharing time. The sharing component of the morning meeting always follows the greeting.
The Importance of Morning Meeting Sharing Time
The entirety of morning meeting is essential to the success of a classroom. As I said in our first morning meeting post, it truly is the foundation of everything that happens in our classroom. That said, of the four components in morning meeting, the sharing time is absolutely (in my humble opinion) the most vital component. The sharing time is what allows us to share our lives. The morning meeting sharing time is what allows us to get to know our classmates and build that sense of trust and community. The sharing time is also the hardest piece of the morning meeting!
What Is Morning Meeting Sharing Time?
Let me start by saying what sharing time is not: show and tell. Sharing time during morning meeting is when we get to tell our friends what’s happening in our lives. This is when we learn what our students enjoy, their struggles, their joys, and their lives. This time is when we bond and laugh and even cry sometimes. I also want to point out this: because the students feel safe during this time, you will hear things that break your heart and things that anger you. And this is where 99% of the referrals to children’s services come from. The reason behind this is that the sharing time becomes a very safe space for the kids and they will open up completely. So be prepared for those moments.
How Sharing Time Works In Morning Meeting
As I mentioned, sharing time is the most challenging piece of morning meeting to establish. It takes a lot of time and effort but it is truly worth it when your students are sharing and asking questions and bonding.
On Monday, we go around the circle and EVERYONE shares 1 thing from their weekend. It’s very quick. 1 or 2 sentences about what they did over the weekend. You’ll hear lots of video games and movies and tablets. You’ll also hear “I did nothing.” When a child says that, honor it. Respect it. Don’t push them to share something else. In their mind, they did nothing and that’s what they shared. That’s 100% OK! Also, no one is asking questions on Monday. We’re just listening. Occasionally I might ask 1 question if someone shares something that I want to know more about.
The rest of the week’s sharing time is on a volunteer basis. We have 3 kids share each day. Not everyone wants to share and not everyone gets a turn. I tell the kids “If you didn’t share today, maybe you can share tomorrow.” I ask if anyone wants to share and they give me a thumbs up. I choose a random student to share.
The student will share something about their lives or what they did recently. It’s usually 1 or 2 sentences. This is the easy part.
Questioning And Sharing
After they share, the rest of the students can ask them questions. This is the hard part. Especially at the beginning. But this is also where my students learn to have authentic conversations and invest in conversations.
I start the sharing time about 3 weeks into the school year. This is the last component of the morning meeting that I introduce. The first week of introducing this I will ask the students to share and I will ask them questions. Then, when I feel the kids are ready, the students will share and I will ask a question and then ask the students to ask questions. Sometimes I might need to model another question but they will be able to ask some questions also. Finally, at some point, I release the questioning to the students with the necessary support and scaffolding!
One way to scaffold throughout the year is to give the students hints. So let’s say someone shares about making cupcakes. The students ask good questions such as: “What kind of cupcakes?” “Did you eat the cupcakes?” “Why did you make the cupcakes?”
After that I will say “Anymore questions about the cupcakes?” and if no one raises their hand, I might say: “Do we know about the icing on the cupcakes?” This will prompt someone to raise their hand and ask another question! Don’t be afraid to lead them to questions during the sharing time. These questions are how we learn more about our friends and participate in authentic conversations!
Another great way to support and scaffold for students during the sharing time is with the use of question words. Teach the students that questions start with question words: who, what, where, when, how, and why. This helps them formulate questions instead of statements! We have used a question word anchor chart that we display. We now use a wonder wheel for the question words. These give the students a visual reference they can look at if they need help with their questions!
Do You Have To Share?
So, the kids are sharing. Does the teacher have to share? ABSOLUTELY! If we expect our students to open up and take risks, we must do the same thing. Plus, our kids want to know more about us. They want to know what we do, and our hobbies and let’s face it, they think we live in the classroom so if we can share our lives outside of the classroom with them, even better!
One More Sharing Idea…
There is one other way that I use the morning meeting sharing time with my class. Sometimes, when needed, we use the sharing time to address behavior issues. This allows us to have a very frank, open discussion about a behavior issue that might be affecting the class. Some examples: not cleaning up centers, not putting away supplies, being mean to each other, etc. Instead of talking to a few students individually, we bring it up during our sharing time. I usually explain the issue or concern and then ask the kids to talk about what we’re doing and ways to fix it. This puts the ownership of the behavior and the responsibility for fixing it on them! It’s definitely a tough love situation and I always tell them that even though I’m upset, I still love them!
For more information on morning meeting, check out these posts: