A Slice of Learner Centered Education with the Silver Arrows
Deep Dive into Morning Meeting and class traditions, leadership, collaboration, and academic practice
Most classrooms begin each day with a classic routine– the morning meeting. Morning Meeting (MM) is a daily routine that starts most elementary classes. Typically over the course of 20-30 minutes, learners and educators sit in a circle where some activities may include greetings, calendar, weather, number/letter/word of the week, ice breakers, shares, and games. GAP school classes start the same way, but the Silver Arrows put their learner-centered twist on it.
Initially during the month of September, the Educators led MM. As the learners showed interest and ability to lead MM, we guided learners to prepare, organize, and lead themselves. By mid-October, learners led MM routines with coaching from us educators when needed. Watching the learners engage in remembering the root words, solving equations using their mental math method, or greeting one another in Italian is magical! The Silver Arrows have adapted this set of MM roles and routines to meet their learning needs.
To help envision our MM, the whole Silver Arrows class meets around the fire circle at Raven’s Haven around 8:30 am to enjoy this daily routine together. There are a variety of ways that learners contribute to the success of MM daily. Learners rotate in and out of roles. Sometimes they will prepare the white board for the meeting. Other times they will only lead the meeting verbally, with others helping as the recorder writing responses on the whiteboard. Some learners will lead the meeting and do both. The leader guides the whole group through a greeting (below) and also several shared academic routines and discussions (table).
The MM whiteboard usually includes the following:
The leader will say:
Good morning, Silver Arrows!
Today is Monday, January 17th 2022.
It’s the only Monday, January 17th 2022 in human history. (whole group)
Today my mind is my strength. (whole group)
And I inhale confidence and exhale doubt. (whole group)
The middle and second-to-last line was a tradition from last year’s MM. The final line is something that the Silver Arrows added this year, which was inspired by the saying on the back of a t-shirt.
If you are curious to see this in action, watch and see! Below are some examples of learners interacting during Math discussions. Notice the layout and format on the whiteboard along with the different roles learners play.
At the end of the meeting, the whole group decides if the class earned a game, Barn Mice, which is a modified version of tag sometimes played safely in the horse barn area. Depending on how focused the group behaved during the routines, they decide how many rounds they earned (usually 1-2). The leader of MM usually has a larger voice in the determination of the level of reward earned by the whole group.
Other learner-centered practices: Daily Stewardship, Maker’s Day projects, movement breaks like Barn Mice, read aloud selections, independent reading books, workshop topics, creative writing, exploration, imaginative play, and outdoor skills. I intended on writing this blog post about both MM and Stewardship, but it was too long! The reason being is that the Silver Arrows are exemplary in promoting many functioning learner-centered systems, I could go on and on!
Our educators aim to promote learner-centered education practices and leadership opportunities for learners in different arenas daily . With that being said, there are some non-negotiables, or the learning routines that we must do to maintain specific skills. These include nature journaling, independent silent reading time (DEAR, Drop Everything And Read), daily ELA and Math practice, active listening, design cycle steps, and safety procedures.