Fostering A Community of Learners

Lawrence Community Meeting: Fostering A Community of Learners

Lawrence Community Meeting is a gathering of the K-5 school community held on alternate Friday mornings.

The primary purpose of Community Meeting is to promote a sense of community.  Children, staff and parents develop a feeling of connectedness to the rest of the school.  Community Meeting also provides a forum for celebrating learning in the school as students or classes share.   Children learn how to be a respectful audience – listening and demonstrating appreciation in appropriate ways.  Community Meeting provides opportunities for students to build self-confidence and public speaking skills.  Finally, it provides a time to acknowledge and celebrate different cultures and special days and to have some fun.

Each week, one fifth grade class plans community meeting and four fifth grade students act as “hosts.”   They are in charge – giving the signal for quiet and introducing and thanking the various people who contribute or share.  A series of short “sharings” follow.   Students may initiate signing up to share using a form in the office. Teachers and specialists also arrange sharings by small groups or whole classes.  These typically focus on projects or work done in the classroom or are related to a special day.    There is no required schedule for class sharing. Rather it is intended to grow naturally out of what is happening in the school. Teachers will occasionally do a surprise share of their own.  Comments from the principal and vice principal are a regular feature at the end of community meeting. This time can be used to recognize or welcome members of our school community.  It is also a time to raise issues and remind students about school-wide expectations.

Some community meetings focus on a theme.   Our Olweus Bullying Prevention Kick-off will be held later this month. Another example is Martin Luther King Day.  Our annual “Jump Rope for Heart” is especially popular as students delight in showing off their skills and seeing their teachers do the same.  At least twice a year (usually for Earth Day and Memorial Day), we hold school-wide (K-8) community meeting outdoors.

This past week’s gathering was a particularly good example of what we want Community Meeting to be:

  • Celebrating Our Diverse Community:  KE sang a heartwarming version of “We All Sing With the Same Voice.”
  • Having Fun:  Three pairs of students told jokes, a group of second grade students demonstrated “Pop See Ko,” and our fifth grade hosts surprised their teacher Ms. Nguyen on her birthday.
  • Sharing Learning Initiated by Students:  Two groups of students read poems they had read in class.  A fifth grade student played an original song on guitar.
  • Sharing Learning Initiated by a Teacher:  3M shared some phrases they developed to remember the meaning of habits of mind, such as persistence.

One of the tenets of our Responsive Classroom program is to build a positive classroom community, which is described as: “Teachers nurture a sense of belonging, significance, and emotional safety so that students feel comfortable taking risks and working with a variety of peers.”   I believe that Lawrence Community Meeting helps to promote a positive community on a school-wide basis.

 Rick Rogers

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