Bennett Day School News

"Morning Meeting" at Bennett Day School

Cognitive growth and achievement are strongly influenced by social interaction. As young children develop an emerging sense of self, we must provide them a time to socially engage with peers in a community environment within the classroom. Modeled after the principles of the  Responsive Classroom approach, Bennett Day School will have daily Morning Meetings in which all students will participate.

Morning Meeting is a shared community time between teachers and students that builds social and academic success. Activities included in Morning Meeting foster community and collaboration, team building, and the development of social awareness. They also provide children opportunities to ask questions, give feedback, and state their purpose or intent for the day. This builds organization, interpersonal relationships, academic direction, and metacognition.

Valuing our collaborative culture, Morning Meeting begins with a class greeting in which each child greets their peer by name. For our youngest students, this is the beginning of understanding of group identity. Students are given the opportunity to share stories with their peers and teachers of events happening in their world as well as projects and ongoing documentation that they have been working on. Students will regularly provide suggestions for and insights on the work of their peers, helping them achieve their utmost potential. Receiving constructive feedback is a reality of life that doesn’t come easy to all. For Bennett Day School graduates, this process will be natural and comfortable.

Children feel a sense of belonging and acceptance when given opportunities to contribute to the classroom environment. During Morning Meeting, students will review classroom jobs, such as Attendance Taker and Shopper—a student who visits the Community Marketplace to provide our daily snack. These jobs will rotate on a regular basis, allowing all students opportunities to take part in shared roles and responsibilities.

Students will also participate in group games and activities during Morning Meeting that foster a collaborative approach to learning and develop social awareness of others. These games can also build academic concepts. Students will regroup after the game to discuss any challenges they encountered. Games built around teamwork may foster a discussion of ways to signal to a friend when in need of help, as well as how to identify a peer who is looking for help. As a group, the class may then discuss how the activity can relate to our own experiences in the classroom.

As Morning Meeting comes to a close, students choose their activity or continued project for the day. This independent choice is rooted strongly in the Reggio Emilia belief that children are capable of choosing their work with intention and sustaining that play for long periods of time. This begins the process for a child to build his meta-cognition—or thinking about his thinking—as he engages in active control over his learning process. By using this planned approach to learning, our students will develop into master players and thinkers, attending to one activity or play script for a sustained amount of time.  In doing so, a child builds a habit of the mind of focus and attention. Later on, when presented with an unfamiliar task or test, a Bennett Day School student will not have trouble approaching this new territory. The skills to attend, focus and problem-solve will come naturally.

At Bennett Day School, we strive for students to be active participants and collaborators in the learning process. Our commitment to daily Morning Meetings demonstrates our respect of the child as an individual narrator of her learning and also as a member of a much larger world.