Friday, 17 February 2012

Social Skills, Class Meetings & Freebies!

.My very favourite part of being a classroom teacher is when we get together as a class, and have a class meeting. It is one thing that I will always do in my classroom, no mater what! We usually have our class meetings and social skills lessons together, at least once a week (plus the impromptu, emergency class meetings when something really big is going on between the kids - teachable moments are so important)! During one of my most successful class meetings, my kids and I came up with some problem solving strategies, and we made the poster above on (if you haven't checked the Wordle site out, you will love it! Great for mother/father day gifts, projects, displays.. & more!)

I always tell the kids that in our classroom, we don't create problems, we solve problems. The best way to do that is by having a discussion, and agreeing on a solution that adresses everyone involved. Class meetings are perfect for this! It gives a chance for everyone to have a voice, and for kids to learn from each other. Also, I truly believe that academic learning can not take off to its full potential if students are worrying and obsessing over problems that are hanging over their heads. It is astonishing to see how the kids succeed academically after their social and emotional struggles begin to improve!

My class meetings work like this:

We all sit in a circle on the floor, including me. There are very important rules during a class meeting (which is always what our very FIRST class meeting is about) and it is amazing how the kids really take these rules to heart. I choose a stuffy, or another object to be our "talking tool"... and it gets passed around the circle, beginning with me asking a question about the topic that needs to be addressed.  

Here are our class meeting rules:

1. Only the person holding the stuffed animal (or ball/stick/whatever you use) is allowed to speak.  
2. Everyone else shows listening skills to the person talking.  
3. Everyone has the right to pass 
4. We must all respect each other - everyone is safe to share what they need to in the circle

After a few times of over-accentuating bravery when students share embarrassing or difficult things with the class (because let's face it, that is tough to do - even most adults I know don't admit to their own true struggles!!), the kids begin to feel that they have a voice and are safe to talk with their peers and teacher. And, they all see that other kids are fighting the same battles as they are - from homework troubles, to bullies, to friendship challenges and more. One last little gem that I like to use during class meetings is this: teach the kids how to say "yes" and "no" in sign language. Not only do they think it is super cool, but you can also ask them yes/no questions during meetings and they can answer & participate without talking or disruption ;)

 I know that I am very lucky in the fact that our class sizes are small (due to the high needs of the kids), and I appreciate that class meetings may be daunting with a large class. Do you ever have class meetings in a similar way, or do you have any new ideas to share that have worked? I would love to hear from you!

In the meantime, here are some freebies on  a few social skills lessons I do. 
First, we have a class meeting about the topic, where kids can share experiences or ask questions.
Then we discuss the steps to being successful in the skill.
Finally, the kids copy the social skill steps off of the board into their own social story (below). They draw their own picture for each step of the social skill. Social stories are great - especially for those non-verbal and 'literal' learners!

Below is a student sample, to give you an idea of the completed social story.
Click on the sample to download some *Freebies* for your social skills lessons: Starting a Conversation, Avoiding trouble, Apologizing, Standing up for Yourself, and a generic template. 

Have a great weekend! 


  1. Hi Christine:
    I've been doing class meetings this year, but I need to switch my focus. We meet every Monday (so we call them Monday Morning Meetings). Initially, I wanted to have them get comfortable just TALKING and SHARING. We're past that now!

    Now we need to get into the "tougher stuff" (before the year is over!) Thirty four sixth graders on the floor is crowded... even pushing the desks aside, and we are battling some "equity issues" and some kids who just like to hear themselves talk (which is part of the greater problem).

    No school next Monday, so I have a week to pull it together. Wish me luck!

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. Hi Kim,
      WOW - 34 sixth graders - you are brave! What a great idea, I love the idea of Monday Morning Meetings. I definitely know what you mean - students who like to hear themselves talk. Sometimes I give them the silent 10-finger countdown, have a "pause button" signal... seems to work most of the time!

      Hope your morning meeting goes well next Monday - wishing you luck! Keep me posted! Thanks for the comment :)

      Have a great week!

  2. I love your wordle! I think we may do that in my room too! I found your site through Teaching Blog Addict and I really like it!

    new follower,