As the sun rises and a new school day begins, sped teachers who get things done breathe a sigh of relief knowing special education morning meeting is waiting for their students.
The planning required of special education teachers for their diverse students is immense.
Our students with special education need instruction based on their specific needs.
These students, with various learning disabilities and special needs, require individualized attention and support in order to thrive in their educational journey.
In order to set the tone for a successful day, many special education teachers have turned to the use of morning meetings as a powerful tool.
This daily ritual, known as morning meeting has been proven to have a significant impact on the growth of students with special needs.
By incorporating elements of structure, routine, and community building, special education morning meeting provide a powerful platform.
This fosters connection, promoting independence, and sets the tone for a positive and productive school day for both teachers and students.
Let’s explore the various components of this morning meeting and you can use this activity for each student every day.
Practice safety information
The morning meeting activities aim to empower students by offering a dedicated 15-minute daily session focused on expressing personal information.
This encompasses crucial details like name, address, phone number, birthday, age, parents’ names, and gender.
What’s remarkable is its adaptability—suitable for a wide spectrum of learners, from those with mild to severe disabilities.
It’s important to practice safety information for students in special education.
This includes teaching our students how to express their personal information to others.
By consistently reinforcing this, we can create a secure and comfortable space for our students to engage in this practice.
Also, by incorporating safety information into our morning meetings, we can start each day right with a strong emphasis on the well-being and protection of all our students.
Use special education morning meeting for IEP goals
During our special education morning meetings, students can work towards meeting their individualized education program (IEP) goals.
This is done by focusing on improving communication skills, practicing social interactions, and developing academic abilities.
Morning meetings play a crucial role in helping students make progress towards their IEP goals.
The daily practice allows me to collect ongoing data for targeted skills.
A simple checklist for concepts of print is an easy and meaningful piece of data.
Recording the number of responses a student gives including correct or incorrect information is helpful for documenting goals.
Turn taking is a goal many of our students are working on.
When I conduct special education morning meeting in group of 3-5 students, I can document whether a student is able to wait for their turn.
My students are very used to morning meeting and the 15 minute window it occupies.
Because of this, I can easily record data on a checklist.
If this is a struggle for you, recruit an assistant to record data for IEP goals when needed.
Teach concepts of print
During our special education morning meetings, we engage our students in an interactive binder that teaches the essential concepts of print.
Through scripted sentences and hand over hand “reading”, we help our students develop a strong foundation in literacy.
Left to right movement of the sentence completion phrases builds the foundation for reading.
Also, students practice turning pages from the front of the binder to the back.
For some of my students with higher abilities, we dive into more concepts of print details.
This includes concepts such as letter recognition, phonics, and punctuation marks.
Because morning meeting is a structured time, it allows students the luxury of knowing the format of the lesson.
This reduces stress and increases the overall learning experience for students with special education needs.
Create social skills with special education morning meeting
In addition to fostering a love for reading, special education morning meetings also provide a wonderful opportunity for our students to develop and enhance their social skills.
Through interactive group roles and discussions, a safe and inclusive space establishes a place for our students to practice effective communication and cooperation.
These valuable social skills not only benefit their academic success but also play a crucial role in their personal and future professional lives.
By providing opportunities for collaborative learning and encouraging positive interactions, our students development the social skills they need to navigate the world.
Some of the social skills focused on include
- turn taking
- conversational skills
- maintaining eye contact
- sitting in a spot for an activity
- answering when spoken to
- being part of a group
- regulating their volume levels
The above list is just a start of the necessary social skills to engage in our society.
A simple activity like special education morning meeting promotes these skills in a daily, safe format.
Encourage active listening skills
During our special education morning meetings, we place a strong emphasis on encouraging active listening skills amongst our students.
I incorporate this activity into my classroom routine every day, setting aside 15 minutes for it.
Throughout the school day, I have found various ways to make use of it:
- as a morning warm-up for the whole class
- as a one-on-one academic session with me
- as a small group activity with no more than 5 students in each group
Typically, I have two small groups that take turns in consecutive time slots.
Regardless of the time of day, here’s how I facilitate it!
The students’ information is presented on the left side of the page, and then they will place the correct information, either independently or with a little assistance, one piece at a time after I ask each question verbally.
By doing this, they complete the sentences on the right side of the page.
Increase express communication skills
In addition to promoting active listening, our special education morning meetings also focus on enhancing receptive communication skills.
If students verbal, they are kindly requested to either read the sentence aloud or repeat it after me.
For students who have the assistance of a voice output device, we make sure they have everything set up to actively engage in class.
We encourage all students to express themselves verbally, but we also understand that some are still developing their abilities or don’t have the physical means to do so.
Oftentimes, a SLP or assistant provide support to those who are learning how to use their voice output devices.
Regardless, everyone interacts with their written information daily by moving it from left to right.
Then they express their information in a way best suited for their needs.
Bolster turn taking in small groups
In addition to fostering active listening skills, another important aspect of our special education morning meetings is to bolster turn taking in small groups.
We recognize that giving each student a designated turn is crucial for their social and emotional development.
The first way to do this is by establishing a routine.
When working with students with significant needs, a routine cannot be under valued.
Many of my young students have never been asked to work in a group.
This includes sitting in a chair and waiting for a turn.
While many of us take advantage of this as a given, it is truly a life changing skill.
Once this is established, I can then go on to teach students how to know when it’s their turn.
Then, I practice getting their attention, making eye contact, and engaging with me by physical moving the pieces and or vocalizing.
Again, while this may seem simple, these turn taking skills are the foundation for successful participate in society.
Change out the lead question asker
In addition, I like to mix things up a bit by having different individuals, including myself, take turns as the main person asking these important questions.
This way, our students can become comfortable responding to various people.
I have a diverse group of adults, such as our principal or assistant principal, classroom assistants, the school resource officer, inclusion teachers, and even parents who kindly offer their help.
The significance of this practice cannot be emphasized enough.
I want our students to feel confident in sharing their personal information with any adult in case they ever find themselves lost or in need of assistance in the community.
Lastly, I believe in keeping things fresh and exciting during special education morning meeting.
We don’t always gather in the same spot.
Sometimes we gather around the large work table, on the cozy carpet, or even in the hallway.
Other times, we venture out to different locations like the gym, the front office, or even outside on the playground.
This helps our students apply and adapt this valuable skill in various settings.
Use special education morning as a daily no-prep activity
One of the best parts about our special education morning meetings is that we have a no-prep activity that can be used daily to kickstart our day on a positive note.
All in all, incorporating a morning meeting in your special education classroom can work wonders for developing your students’ skills.
Just remember to be structured, engaging, and tailored to your students’ personal information.
Your morning meetings will become a daily highlight for both you and your students.
So go grab a set of binders, a roll of velcro, and organize your days with some special education morning meeting magic!