As the Performing Arts teacher here at Henderson International School, I have the unique honor of teaching across all of the grade levels. In my six years here, I have looked for opportunities to have the Lower School students and the Middle School students integrate. I want the Kindergarten students to get to know the older students and I want our older students to learn to be caring role models and student leaders for the younger grades. Additionally, it is beneficial for the Kindergarteners to see the older students as peers that they can trust. I sought to accomplish these goals through a collaborative Morning Meeting/Circle of Power and Respect between the Kindergarten and seventh grade students.
According to the Developmental Design model, Morning Meeting sets the tone for respectful learning, establishes a climate of trust, motivates students to feel significant, creates empathy, encourages collaboration, and supports social, emotional, and academic learning. Circle of Power and Respect builds community and provides a daily structure that ensures young adolescents have a regular, safe opportunity to meet their needs for relationship, autonomy, competence, and fun in a school appropriate way. Both components of Morning Meeting and CPR include greeting, sharing and activity. Listed below are examples of how we run our integrated meetings.
We all start sitting in a circle. I explain to both classes that they have one minute to greet as many “new” friends as they can. The seventh graders have to greet the Kindergarteners and the little ones can only greet the older students. They all have to walk around the room and say, “Hi, my name is ______. Nice to meet you.”
Our first meeting we had a Kindergartener and a seventh grader each pair up. They each had to ask three questions to find out more about their new friends. I gave them all about 3-5 minutes. Then I had the students share out with the group all of the new things they learned about their new friend. At other times, we have an all-group share: I will ask a question and each student must share their response with the group.
For our activities I like to play simple games and acting games with the students. Examples include an acting game called The Living Museum and the ever popular Duck, Duck, Goose. Living Museum targets the educational areas of concentration and physical work. In this game the museum has come to life, but you can’t let the night guards see you or you’ll be removed from the display and sent to storage. Duck Duck Goose gets kids to be active and make choices, and encourages them to pick all students, not just their friends. It encourages social interaction, is a great icebreaker and promotes team building.
So far, we have had several cross-grade level meetings and it has been a great success. The Kindergarteners are thrilled when their seventh grade friends come to visit, while the seventh graders have enjoyed interacting with the Kindergarteners. Both groups have discovered that despite the difference in age, we actually all have a lot in common.
Performing Arts Teacher