The children have been running our morning meetings for months now. The children put their names on the agenda throughout the day. The next morning two children come and run the meeting. We have no schedule for this, overtime more children have joined in and now everyone has had turns.
The agenda seems to be getting longer. There are often house-keeping items, such as lost books or hats children want help finding. Though these are relatively simple items, the discussions are often complex. The children offer solutions and possible ways of organizing items. Some children offer to go to the ‘big’ lost and found in the high school. They are completely independent and solve all their problems by themselves.
Next come the agenda items about things which have not been put away, tops left off markers or a ripped book. This is when the classroom culture really becomes apparent. There is an increase in the number of children using this language.
Child One: Someone ripped the book, it is bad because now it doesn’t look good. Who did this?
Child Two: Yes who did this? [change of tone to soft and gentle], it’s O.K. You can tell us, we don’t mind. Just tell the truth, it will be O.K. Please just tell us.
Child Three: It was me, I did it. I’m sorry.
Child Two: You need to be careful, but you told the truth, that is good.
We have worked all year to build this culture of trust and respect. Children take responsibility for their actions. They know there may be a consequence for the action, but they trust it will be fair.
Next on the agenda are creations and designs children want to share. This offers an opportunity to celebrate ideas and share opinions. Throughout the year we have worked on asking questions to find out more and sharing honest opinions which are worded in ways that respect the person who is sharing.
Child One: I made weapon, it is super cool and very strong. It has a piece that comes off. Do you have questions?
Child Two: Where did you get your idea?
Child One: I learned to roll up paper and it is very strong.
Child Three: Why do you always make weapons?
Child One: I like it and I use my brain to design good stuff. You can use my idea.
There are sometimes items which children are pondering, these can be about politics or social justices issues.
Child One: So I am going to explain why world war 2 started . There was a man and he didn’t like Jews…. They had to wear crosses. So when they took a poison shower and they died. It’s sad isn’t it?”
Child Two: I didn’t know that… that is sad. Thank you for telling us.
Child Three: I know this my dad told me, but I forgot.
Child Four: My dad’s dad died, it’s sad.
This is just a sample of what the children have discussed last week.
When talking to a parent she noted that the children truly believe they can solve issues without adults. They don’t seek answers from adults as a first response. They are happy to listen to problems of any kind and offer advice, support and strategies. This is seen at home and at school. These are powerful tools for future life.