System- Class Meetings & Reflection

Did you know the brain can only take in new information for about 5-10 minutes before it needs to pause, process, and reflect? Seriously. Think about the long lectures you’ve attended and how hard it was to focus and learn. 

With this neuroscience tidbit in mind, I suggest having multiple meetings or circle times. Meetings are a great chance to engage in community-building activities of all kids. One super simple strategy for this is singing together!

For my younger students, our morning meeting is after morning playtime and we always begin with a greeting song. Our favorites are When I Woke Up Today by Laurie Berkner & The More We Get Together, because both are fantastic for building a sense of love and positive relationships in the classroom.

Bonus! Did you know singing is proven to improve the sense of community thus positively impacting all learning?

Morning meetings with any group (especially young children) should be efficient and engaging. We chat briefly about our schedule & calendar things that are of interest… “Tomorrow we have a guest reader, or Today is Monday the 3rd and we have music class.” Then, we typically sing a phonics or science song with movement, and maybe do one more thing like a phonics or number sense activity. People think the whole short and sweet meeting idea is just a preschool thing, but in reality, unless you keep the meeting moving and interesting, all age brains will get disengaged… and as you know, then the problems start! There are many strategies for extending meetings to accomplish more, and yet maintain engagement… but that’s a conversation for another day!

Reading aloud typically happens in a meeting as well. I have found Snack time or post recess to be a great time to read aloud to kids, they are such a captive audience then! Plus, there is something familial and comforting about sitting together to read and chat while we eat or rest.

Small group meetings are ideal for engaging in tasks that are more involved academically, or where you want each conversation participant to have more opportunity to speak. Many of us educators are used to meeting in small groups for literacy instruction, but we love utilizing a group rotation for writing, math, and other subjects as well. Meeting in small groups certainly provides opportunities to practice social skills and build comradery and community while facing new academic challenges.

This next one is probably the most important meeting of the day. At the end of the day, we have our Reflection meeting. This is a time to revisit our charts/board/journals where we are recording our learning and wondering about the topic. Sometimes students share something they’ve written or accomplished. Most importantly, we ask a reflection question such as:

“Did you have a problem today and how did you solve it?” 

“What made you feel proud today?” 

“What made you feel excited today?” 

“How were you kind today?” 

Why Reflection Time?

These conversations are a fantastic way to expand upon and cement learning already happening. Questions that attend to things like problem-solving and feelings, address critical social-emotional learning and add to the foundational understanding of kindness and respectful behavior. This is also a great time to revisit problems you noticed children had earlier in the day, by asking if they would like to share how they solved their problem. I like to focus on the solution at this time because we have moved on and we want them to feel pride in that success rather than ruminate on the past negativity. In our experience, as the sense of comradery builds through the variety of community-building approaches we engage in, the students begin to look forward to this reflection time as a chance to celebrate their learning and growth. It’s not fake platitudes, it’s real ownership and pride in themselves and each other. It’s a truly beautiful thing to see.


Pathway 2 Success offers a great list of Reflection Questions to use, whether for a verbal conversation, or journaling. 

Role of Reflection – Centre for Pedagogical Innovation (

Costa, A. & Kallick, B. (2008). Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind: 16 Essential Characteristics for Success. ASCD.

Quaglia, R., Fox, K., Lande, L. & Young, D. (2020). The Power of Voice in Schools: Listening, Learning, and Leading Together. ASCD.

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