How we come together matters. Each morning, High Meadow teachers, staff, and students converge from across the region, and each morning, we create space first thing to release the activity of arriving, to be present with one another, to ask for and offer support, to clarify our intentions for the day.

At all grade levels, morning class meetings provide structure for community building and problem solving, and a daily venue to consider the wellbeing of every member of our school.

As Jackie Katzen, Student Support Services Coordinator, puts it, “meetings ensure that students’ first experience of the school day is one of active participation.”

On a single day this week, meeting discussions ranged from sportsmanship on the four square court, to solutions to lateness, to the playlist for the Upper School Dance, to finding an eco-friendly alternative to day-glo paint.

Students shared books, discussed the day’s schedule, and offered appreciations to their peers. All the while, they were engaged in vital social emotional learning, practicing listening actively to their peers and proactively addressing problems most relevant to them.

Our meeting structure is informed by our school-wide use of Positive Discipline, an approach “designed to teach young people to become responsible, respectful, and resourceful members of their communities.”

Positive Discipline draws on “recent research [that] tells us that children are hardwired from birth to connect with others, and that children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family, and school are less likely to misbehave.”

Of course, connection not only reduces problem behavior, it also creates rich conditions for learning and self-expression. “Giving kids a voice is a rare and precious opportunity,” Jackie says. “We can all support this important work by ensuring students arrive on time, prepared to participate in their classroom communities.”