Building a sense of community in the classroom is a strong piece of the 5th-grade experience in Ms. Hellenga’s classroom at Lombard Middle School. Over the past 15 years, Ms. Hellenga has made sure that all students in her classroom feel comfortable and included. She believes that students can make better academic gains when this is achieved.
To achieve this sense of community, Ms. Hellenga created a “Morning Meeting” held daily in each class. The goal of the morning meeting is to build community, set a positive tone for the day, increase excitement about learning, and improve academic and social skills. Morning Meeting is an example of Social and Emotional learning in the classroom.
The meeting consists of four parts: Greeting, Sharing, Activity, and News/Announcements. Recently, a few Knox College Students were able to join the morning meeting and participate with Lombard students.
According to Ms. Hellenga, “Morning Meeting lets students know every day that our class is a safe place where everyone’s feelings and ideas are important.”