Looking to build positive classroom culture from the first day of school? Here is one simple routine you can use to help strengthen connections and create a supportive class culture, starting on Day One.
Positive Community Promoter as a Class Job
One of my class job categories is "Positive Community Promoter." Part of that category is a responsibility called "Greetings and Good News." A pair of students leads the discussion, asking volunteers to share good news. They call on four or five individuals to share a 15-second piece of personal news.
Example of Greetings and Good News in Action
1. The Positive Community experts give the signal that it's time for Greetings and Good News. This can be a class call and response or the end of morning music or some other cue. Then they ask, "Does anyone have any good news?"
2. When someone indicates they have something to share, the student leaders take turns calling on people. For example, a student might say, "I have a soccer tournament in Longmont tomorrow," or "We just got a new puppy. It's a chocolate Lab and we named it Hershey."
3. The leader responds in some short, appropriate way to what the volunteer said. For example, the leader might say "good luck at your tournament," or "I'm glad the puppy found a good home with your family." This is an important step; the leader is listening to what is shared and responding in a sincere, appropriate way and the speaker receives appropriate feedback after sharing.
4. The other leader calls on a new volunteer, and the process repeats.
Benefits of Greetings and Good News
A. This is an amazing way to get to know more about your students and their hobbies and interests outside of school. It can also give you a heads-up about anything going on that you might not otherwise know, like upcoming out of town trips or a family adjustment (my mom just got back in town after being away for two weeks).
B. This is a good way to let students build connections with each other - they might not otherwise know they both did fencing or chess or had guinea pigs in common. It also builds empathy in general, because even if students don't have an interest in common, they can see each other as more well-rounded people. A lot of life happens outside of school, after all!
C. This establishes a climate of trust - the teacher doesn't have to run it at all - the students can be in charge and the routine goes automatically, even if there is a guest teacher that day.
D. It builds communication and listening skills, and appropriate social skills. Students need to manage how many details they share in the time provided, and peers need to listen politely, and leaders need to respond to what is said in an appropriate way. These are excellent interpersonal skills that are useful in many real-world contexts.
1. When you introduce the routine, be sure to address what kinds of news would be appropriate to share. It's not okay to share someone else's news - even good news. It's not okay to share things that should be private, or news that might make someone else upset that you shared it. For example, a student should not share "My baseball team trounced Jacob's team 45 to zero yesterday," even if Jacob isn't in the room.
2. Teach the discussion leaders to manage the time limit. After 15 seconds, the leader should smile at the volunteer and say, "thank you, that's all the time we have," and then respond to what the person said. This is a social skill - if the person is two words away from wrapping up, then it's not okay to interrupt, but if the person is just getting warmed up with the 32nd detail, it's time to move the group along to the next person.
3. You can choose to have group leaders call on volunteers for all the good news anyone wants to share that day, or limit it to four or five volunteers. Either way, I recommend that leaders only call on each volunteer once per day, so that volunteers have to consider what's most important to share.
4. You can choose to do this routine every day or 2-3 times per week. If you are doing Morning Meetings and want to use some other discussion protocols, you don't have to stick to this one every single day.
5. Remind leaders to call on different students - not just their closest friends. Students are often really great about being fair with this. Alternately, you might want to have leaders pull sticks with names or use a random name generator and then the leader can ask the student whose name comes up if they have any good news to share today.
6. Although this routine works well first thing in the morning, you can also use it at different times of day, like after lunch, before dismissal, or as a brain break at a natural transition point during a lesson.
7. You can have students post their good news on index cards or a shared digital space where others can ask questions and respond politely, as an alternative to the class discussion model.
I have used variations of this routine for many years, and it has been a successful way for students to communicate better, support each other, and connect to each other - and to me. I hope you find it helpful, too!
I've had the privilege of working with hundreds of students and families in IA, CT, NC, MO, TX, and Canada.