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Morning Meeting Builds Community at Somers Intermediate School 

Benedetto and his students Building a sense of community and setting the tone for a respectful class culture are just some of the ways a brief morning meeting benefits the students in Joe Benedetto’s fifth grade class at Somers Intermediate School. 

Each morning when students arrive in class, the fifth graders unpack and decompress a little before the start of the day with a 20-minute morning meeting. Oftentimes, it begins with a quick riddle from their teacher who may then segue into topics they discussed the day before. Recently, they have used the morning meeting to do something out of the ordinary – learning American Sign Language. 

Kids engaged and rasing hands in classStudents spend time each morning learning basic words and phrases and communicate with each other as well as their teacher. With the help of a video projected on a Smartboard, Benedetto and his students engage in a quick game of sign language memory. Already, they have mastered the signs for some common words and phrases like water, Band-Aid, bathroom, hungry, thank you. They also have learned many other common words like hello, yes, no, I need, what, hungry, see you later, help and thank you. 

“I like that I am learning sign language,” said fifth grader Jordin. 

Hudson, another student, agreed and added that the morning meeting is a great way to ease into the day. “I like to have some extra time in the morning learning new signs before class starts,” Hudson said. 

The morning meeting began several years ago as part of the responsive classroom movement. Benedetto said he has used it for many years because of the benefits to each student’s social and emotional needs. “It’s a daily check in on the emotional state of the children and having everyone being recognized creates feelings of significance and belonging,” he said.