Building Courage, Community at Morning Meeting

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How we begin our morning can have profound consequences for the rest of the day. This is as true for you and me as it is for any preschooler.

So this year, I’m beginning our morning meeting differently.

We still gather together on the carpet, but instead of beginning by facing the smart board for calendar time, we face each other in a circle.

In the center of the circle are a palm cross and emojis on sticks.

Each student selects the emoji that matches her/his feeling (talkative, happy, sad, etc.) and says what the feeling is.

Now, these are preschoolers, so they don’t actually talk about why they feel the way they do yet. But I model how to do that when they’re finished saying what they feel.

I take an emoji, state what I’m feeling and say why I’m feeling that way. For example, I might pick one that shows excitement, and say, “I’m excited to be at school with my friends today.”

Later in the year, the students will learn to express why they feel the way they feel.

Why do it?

In sharing our feelings, we share our mutual vulnerability. We build the courage to share our deep selves honestly, knowing that we are worthy of love and empathy no matter how we feel.

Social emotional learning expert Lorea Martinez, PhD, says “Naming emotions accurately helps students be clearer about what is happening inside, so they can manage themselves in positive ways and become better learners.”

Next, we ask God for help by expressing our intercessions.

Our Leader of the Day picks up the palm cross and hands it to the student who was first to share her/his feeling.

Again going in the circle, each student shares what s/he wants us all to pray for while holding the palm cross.

We finish with the Lord’s Prayer or Hail Mary, a fun song, and the Pledge of Allegiance. Now we’re ready to get to work!

We are only a few weeks into the year, but this has already helped build courage, community and readiness to learn. It’s a great way to start our day!

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