Tag Archives: morning meeting

How to conduct a virtual morning meeting

During this COVID-19 crisis, we as adult educators, are collectively mourning the loss of our everyday routines and face-to-face interactions. And students are too.

As educators, we know that routines are important, and so is face-to-face connection. Meaningful connection with other humans is critical to a young adolescent’s health and well-being. Right now more than ever, we need to provide students with those regular connection routines. And as we make use of video conferencing to connect with students, here’s how to maximize our human connection: virtual morning meetings.

Virtual morning meetings are essential

In Southern Vermont, as soon as schools closed, sixth grade teacher Robin Bebo-Long instantly went virtual with her morning meetings. Every day of the school week, she gathers with her students from Cavendish Town School on a Zoom call. It begins each morning at 8:50 am. And Robin greets each student by name as they join the call.

In Northern Vermont, Jared Bailey joined with his teaching team in getting virtual morning meetings up and running. Every day, Jared spends time with his 21 fifth- and sixth-graders via Google Meet. And he too, greets students as they join the call before its 9 am start time.

Virtual morning meetings help preserve and strengthen relationships

Jared says,

“At this time, we have had such an abrupt disruption in schooling, and we have to focus on what is essential for students – to see their teacher’s face and hear their voice. Those relationships come first, and that we see that our students’ emotions are healthy.”

While so much in students’ lives has changed, it must be comforting to these young adolescents to see both their peers and their educators each morning.

What are the elements of a powerful virtual morning meeting?

Robin and Jared are masters of facilitating the virtual morning meeting. Each of them loosely follows the same structure (which is incidentally pretty similar to the one I proposed in Host your morning meeting from home).  It’s a structure that encourages students to connect, share and build relationships; it could follow this simple format.

1. The Greeting

As mentioned, Robin and Jared greet every student by name, every morning. Each of them greeted students by name as they entered the call. “Good Morning, Lydia…. Good Morning, Neko….”

What does it feel like when you hear your name spoken by a familiar and expected voice? Does it help soothe any anxiety you feel?

2. Daily News or Announcement

If the teacher is the leader of Morning Meeting, then he or she gives some updates and news briefs about the day.

In one session I sat in on, Jared told the students, “Today you have a virtual ELA session at 10:30 am, and a Math virtual session at 1 pm. I know that the art teacher sent out a link to you about some art resources, and there is a time tomorrow for you to pick up Spanish packets at school”.

Try to behave like the central hub of communication for kids on that day. Centralize the information they need for the day. Try to organize it for them. Repeat it to them so they have your voice as a touchstone. There is a lot coming at students in their email in-boxes every day, and many students need someone to assimilate that information for them. If you think it’s helpful, you can use visual news or reminders.

3. Sharing

Next, open up a prompt for people to think about and share.

I’ve seen that done well as a prompt *combined* with the greeting. Jared did this in the session I attended. “Please say good morning to us and share with the class what book you are currently reading”. That sharing creates a set of student-contributed resources for other students to consider. It creates community.

I attended one of Robin’s virtual morning meetings on a Monday. So she asked students to reflect on their weekend activities, utilizing a protocol called Roses and Thorns: “Share with us a high from this past weekend and a low.”

Using that protocol is clever, as it captures the reality that many students are going to struggle with weekends, as well as finding joy. It opens the door, on one hand, for students to look for joy in their lives. At the same time, it invites them to share a place where as the morning meeting leader, you might want to check in and ask a student if they need additional support.

4. Game or Activity

Last, the leader can choose some sort of short activity or game.

Robin shared an activity her class loved: “Find a MEME that shows how you’re feeling!” Again she created that space where her students could invite themselves to share joy or positivity but also open the door to asking for additional support. Meanwhile, for his activity, Jared had the class contribute to a Flipgrid where each student shared a joke.

A note of caution about virtual morning meetings:

So many of us are learning a “new normal”, and video-conferencing has taken the place of the handshake. We are quickly learning the benefits and drawbacks of video tools. Some of the positives: students seeing familiar faces, and hearing familiar voices. The power to provide in-time, synchronous support to students.

And the drawbacks: privacy & security

Security and privacy are real concerns, so choose your tools wisely. Whether you are using Google Hangouts, Meet, Zoom, or some other platform, teachers should take precautions to keep virtual spaces safe. For instance, do you know how to keep students from joining or rejoining a Meet without you?

(Speaking of Meet, they just recently added the ability for teachers to run Google Meets from within their Google Classroom platform. Learn more about that here.)

Now, in some ways, video conferencing can be a great equalizer. But they can also unearth certain inequities. You may be joining the call from your (second) beautiful, sunny solarium with high ceilings, while I am sharing myself from the messy closet of a bedroom that I share with two siblings.

If you use a Zoom call, you can allow your students to change their backgrounds. Microsoft Teams allows users to change their background as well, or simply blur it out. These features allow students to show their own clear faces, but not show a less than ideal backdrop. Teachers might even choose to ask all students to hide backdrops, so that everyone can focus on the person, not the setting.

Additionally, some students may simply not feel comfortable enough with their appearance (or surroundings, or the technology) to participate in video-conferencing either regularly or in a particularly challenging moment. In these cases, what’s your backup plan?

Morning Meeting, meet Advisory

While I have been writing about the Morning Meeting, I want to acknowledge its intwinement with advisory.

Often, an effective advisory structure uses morning meetings on all or most days. Morning meetings can take place across many learning settings, hence my dependence on the term “morning meeting” instead of advisory.

We need Morning Meeting now more than ever

Now back to our program…

For me, there are two main outcomes that make Virtual Morning Meeting so essential.

For one, it’s important that students have this opportunity for connection with peers. I observed both Jared and Robin artfully manage their meetings while still keeping it focused on the students and their voices. Some students might make animal sounds, and the chat window might be fluttering. As much as possible, let the meeting be about their authentic student voices.

The second piece that I noted is that a Virtual Morning Meeting provides this critical window of observation for the teacher. The teacher gets a quick glimpse of each student and hears the tone of their voices. That’s really important data for educators while we attempt to run school remotely.

Speaking of data…

Williston Central School asked parents and students to give administrators and teachers feedback about the remote learning so far. Not surprisingly, Jared and his team received clear and positive reactions about the importance of the virtual Morning Meeting. Here are what some of his parents had to say:

  • “Keeping the daily meeting with her core teacher has been AMAZING! Her whole class was in attendance again today – so pivotal to their happiness!”
  • “… the Google Meets in the morning, right from the get go, have been the glue holding this House together.

Now more than ever, we need educators to create very intentional spaces for our students to connect with their peers and their teachers.

Please tell me if you are using a virtual morning meeting with your students. What is working? How’s it going? I’d love to hear from you.

More Ideas for Morning Meeting Activities


How to run an in-person morning meeting at home

Parents, how are you doing at home with your new “homeschool classroom”?

I’m with you. I’ve been waking up every day for the past two and half weeks feeling like I am in the movie Groundhog Day.


Despite having been a middle school teacher for nearly 20 years, I feel like nothing has prepared me for the task of working from home and managing the academic lives of three children — two of them adolescent boys. Like many of you, I am the homeroom teacher, food service, custodian, counselor, art teacher, PE teacher, and behavior specialist.

And I am struggling.

For two weeks, nothing has felt normal. My home has felt chaotic, and I have been stressed.

I finally had some time to reflect this week upon our home school system. I thought about what is working (snack break) and what is not (sustained work without whining). Then I thought about what I would do if I was a teacher in the classroom again. And finally, I realized that what my home school needed was a sense of community and some routines.

Enter the Home Morning Meeting

Today was our first day, and I designated myself as the leader of today’s morning meeting. I told my family to arrive fully dressed, at the kitchen table, for 8:30 am. I served everyone a bagel, and announced the purpose and structure of our new morning meeting. We would gather together every morning to connect, have a bit of fun, and set the stage for the day.

Now, I live with real humans. This is not some Pollyanna life that I lead.

My husband stared straight ahead like he was enduring a dentist visit. The 16-year-old may have muttered, “This is insane”… My nine year old daughter suggested we put hands on our heads when we were ready to share. Each of us came to this meeting with varying degrees of acceptance and enthusiasm. I fully expected this outcome, and we did it anyway.

It’s important for our kids to have routine and structure. Adults need it too. We are realizing very quickly during these times that face-to-face connection is critical to our human needs. If you can handle it, please consider trying a morning meeting at your home. It takes about 15-20 minutes, and this has been my happiest morning yet.

Here’s my structure for a Home Morning Meeting:

1. Greeting

Start the meeting by greeting each other. You decide how that works, but the basic requirements are to greet a person by name and with eye contact. This morning, we greeted the person to our right with a “Good Morning, Dad” and a fist bump. (There will be snickering)

2. Daily News

The leader of Morning Meeting gives an update and news brief about the day. I said, “Today is Thursday, April 2. It’s a school day with academic learning from 9-12, lunch at 12. Lunch is hot dogs. If you don’t like hot dogs, you can make yourself a PB & J sandwich. From 12:30 – 2, it’s free choice time for extracurriculars. You can do art, music, PE, foreign language, or other projects. Devices stay off until 2 pm”

Keep it short and direct. If you think it’s helpful, you can use a visual.

3. Sharing

Next, the leader opens up a prompt for people to think about and share.

Ours was, “What’s a place in the world that you would like to visit someday?”

The real world responses:

  • Harry Potter Wizarding World in Orlando
  • Amsterdam
  • Costa Rica
  • Lake Louise in Banff National Park
  • Siberia

Bet you can’t guess which one is the ironic 16 year old response.

4. Game or Activity

Lastly, the leader can choose some sort of short activity or game. You can even get outside for a game or a walk. Today, we played one of my favorite advisory games, Count to Ten.

Then, I closed the meeting and wished everyone a good day. Yes, it felt a little hokey and forced, but it also felt good.

We said good morning to each other. We knew what day it was. And we laughed together.

Plus I learned that my husband wanted to visit Amsterdam. So it was a positive start to the day.

Please share with me if you do your own Home Morning Meeting. What ideas do you have? What’s working? The struggle is real, and I’m with you.

Connection activities for virtual morning meetings

Ideas have been flying around the interwebs. Teachers want ways to connect with their students during remote learning. Creative ways to check in with students, provide a safe space with belonging and community and care at the core.

So! We crowd-sourced activities from the incredible #vted community and other trusted resources. You’ll see them credited in the doc. Here is a doc of ideas for ways to check in and support your students remotely.

virtual morning meetings

Have more ideas? Please post them as comments and we will add them to the doc!

5 fresh ways to power up morning meetings


Morning meetings are the norm in many K-6 and K-8 schools in Vermont. They’re a great way to empower students to find their voices and build community. Now here are five ways to organize and structure morning meetings to build transferable and socio-emotional skills (and build those strong relationships that matter so much!):

(Not familiar with Morning Meetings? Here is an overview of the parts from Responsive Classroom. Go on. We’ll wait here and save your seat…)

(Back? Yay! And:)

1. Different seats each day

Sounds corny, and tons of middle school students will groan loudly, but it works. Different seats promote students getting to know each other, expanding friendships and connections, and supporting cross-gender friendships. Yes, cross-gender friendships, 7th graders! They are doable!

True, it’s not giving students choice, but at the beginning of the year we’ve all got these butterflies about new schools, new grades, new… people. Yipes!

So let’s help everyone out at the beginning with some structure.

I used to put out popsicle sticks each morning with student names around the circle for this purpose, particularly at the beginning of the year. This also helped reduce any arguments about who gets which cushion, couch seat, or beanbag! I decide! *muahahahaha* Plus: you can support flexible seating by giving students the choice to stand, sit, flop or yoga pose it out.

2. “What’s up in the world?”

There is so much happening in our world, especially lately. It is complicated, stressful, and unnerving — especially for students. And especially for those students who might feel unsafe or targeted. Or those who have heard bits and pieces of what is happening, but are unsure what is true and why it’s all happening. Heck, half the time all this unsettling news makes *me* wonder the exact same thing.

And that is where the weekly practice of a morning meeting agenda of What’s Up in the World? can help.

Once a week in our morning meeting, we would pose that question on the whiteboard. Students would sign up for topics they wished to discuss.

In each meeting, one student would take on the role of “fact-checker”. When we weren’t sure of the details, we would check a few trusted sources to find out the facts. We didn’t assume, or discuss without reviewing the facts when we could find them. Another student would be a “definer” and look up words that folks didn’t know and read the definitions out to the class.

Resources for middle school news:

While discussing world events, I would keep the conversation on track and developmentally appropriate, by steering away from the close details and images of violent events. Sometimes I had to jump in and reframe or refocus, or ask a question. We relied on our norms for the class that we created together to help guide us. But what happened regularly was that students were hungry for a space to discuss world events in a safe and supported way. These conversations changed minds. Expanded perspectives. And provided a place to digest and begin to understand the world.

Need norms? Proctor School’s Courtney Elliott for the win:

Resources for difficult conversations about current events

I wonder how many potential misconceptions, half-truths, and partially baked biases and stereotypes about world events we uncovered in these weekly sessions. This work felt vital and important.

3. The State of the Class

Right around the time of the state of the union address one year, my students and I joked about the state of our class and giving a speech about it. And then we had an idea. What if we check in on the state of the class each week?

You know, when students say something like: another student has taken my charging cord! Or: my jacket is buried under everyone’s snow stuff! Or: I don’t like the way our class behaved with the music substitute teacher. We had to solve these problems together.

So, we added a weekly agenda item called the state of the class.

Anyone could bring an issue up about how the class was treating each other or functioning, and we would all problem solve and come up with a plan together. That way everyone was accountable to everyone else and we had time to develop solutions that everyone was in support of.

The state of the class centered in students and the their perceptions of problems and solutions, giving students a model for democracy, citizenship and action.

I’ve seen Warren Elementary School, in Warren VT, do this very powerfully, in a way that centers listening, and relationship-building, in their “Town Meetings”. When one student brought up a current need, and explained its impact on him, you could have heard a pin drop. Everyone in the room was invested in that student’s need. And THAT, people, THAT is the room we want.

4. Learning the morning message

Another way to promote learning and growth in morning meeting is: The Message. You can either have students find the errors in a morning message, or have a chart or table to review a recent skill lesson or concept that the class has learned. Often, this was formative information for me. I could tell when a class struggled to summarize a text, a math problem, or concept. Morning messages were instant feedback on emotional states, current topics, and the daily life of the class.

This is an activity for a few weeks in, but you can begin with a word puzzle on the board, a phrase in a foreign language, a rebus, or a poem made of song titles. Be creative and goofy, and your students will follow.

For schools focusing on socio-emotional learning competencies, morning messages can be a great way to explore these very concepts. Students can respond to prompt on the white board or digitally, and then read and discuss responses during morning meeting.

At the middle and high school school level, many schools are using the Circle of Power and Respect. These meetings follow a different format but have many similarities to morning meetings, and can be huge for building community.

5. Now shift it to a student-led space

Finally — this is going to take a hot minute, so maybe toss it on the to-do list — we all know where we want this work to lead. Once students learn the parts of morning meeting (greeting, agenda, sharing, game/activity) and know how to do each one in an inclusive way, they then can begin leading morning meetings. This was after lots of modeling and practice. (Think: late fall. Build those morning meeting muscles!)

Each week, we had two students lead the morning meeting. We rotated all students through this role and gave everyone a chance to lead. For some, this was hard. They might have never had a chance to lead a group, and this gave them practice and support grow their communication, citizenship, listening and leading skills. As the teacher I would support students to participate in this role, sometimes giving sentence stems or tips to students who might have needed it. This was a safe space to practice student voice and leadership for all students.

How do you structure morning meetings to empower students?

We’ve seen a ton of lovely photos from morning meeting already this year, shared on instagram or twitter, but still: we want to hear from YOU. What are your favorite go-to activities for getting morning meeting off on the right foot?