Q & A: Working with Families

Original Article:

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Question: In my classroom this year, I am implementing two teaching strategies, Morning Meeting and Rules and Logical Consequences, but I’m concerned about parents’ reactions. I can imagine that they will worry that we’re “wasting time” with play or are too “soft” on discipline. I’d like parents to feel the same interest and investment in these changes as I do. How have you helped parents understand the value of these strategies?

A: I want parents to recognize that Morning Meeting not only builds community but also reinforces both social and academic skills. Here are two outreach ideas that have worked well in my classroom:

Early in the school year, through newsletters and during our back to school (open house) night, I invite parents into our classroom to take part in Morning Meeting. This gives the parents an opportunity to experience Morning Meeting and then, later in the year, allows me to open up a dialogue with them about what we work on during Morning Meeting. If I know a parent is skeptical about Morning Meeting, I try to talk with them immediately after the meeting. Over the course of the year, at least three-fourths of the students have at least one parent join us for Morning Meeting. Parents are often very impressed by the amount of academic and social skills learning that occurs in a twenty minute Morning Meeting. In the future, I’d like to give parents a handout about morning meeting, stating general academic and social goals of each of the components.

I also use my weekly newsletter to inform parents about Morning Meeting. Along with the updates about what we are working on in math, writing, science, reading and social studies, I include a section about Morning Meeting, highlighting some skills we have been practicing. For example, the section might read as follows: Morning Meeting: This week, during the sharing portion of our meetings, we have continued to practice creating a good lead for narrative writing. We have also enjoyed using the group charades activity to reenact scenes from the book I am reading aloud. In addition to helping students learn how to cooperate and work as a team, this activity has reinforced comprehension of key parts of the book. By including the academic skills that are being practiced during Morning Meetings, I can further support the idea that this is valuable academic time.

Mike Anderson teaches third grade at Dondero Elementary School in Portsmouth,
New Hampshire. Prior to this, he taught fourth and fifth grade for eight years in both East Lyme, Connecticut, and Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He has been using The Responsive Classroomapproach for six years and has been a consulting teacher for
Northeast Foundation for Children for two years.

  • Mike Anderson
    Mike Anderson is an education consultant, award-winning teacher, and author of many books including What We Say and How We Say It MatterThe Well-Balanced Teacher, The First Six Weeks of School, The Research-Ready Classroom, and Learning to Choose, Choosing to Learn. Learn more about Mike and his work or invite him to work with your school or district through his website: Connect with Mike on Twitter: @balancedteacher.

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    Mike Anderson
    Leading Great Learning
    Durham, NH
    Phone: +1 413.658.7907

    Leading Great Learning

    Mike Anderson is an energetic, experienced, and highly sought-after educational consultant who helps facilitate great learning in schools all over the United States and beyond. He has over twenty years of experience as a teacher, consultant, presenter, and developer and has authored many books and articles about great teaching and learning.