3-4 – Family Meeting
Family Meeting Basics
- Agenda – We have a clipboard with paper in the classroom where both students and teachers can write issues that they want to discuss at family meeting. We ask that the person writing the issue signs his or her name next to it so that we know whose issue it is.
- Time – We meet every Friday morning for about an hour if we have agenda items. We don’t meet if there aren’t issues. We set time limits that we think will be appropriate for each issue.
- Voting – We look over the issues before Friday to see which issues could be open for students to vote on. If we just want kids’ feedback because we’re unsure about an issue, then we tell the kids that we’re taking a straw vote, and then we will make a decision and let them know later.
- Discussion – With each issue we ask that the person who brought up the issue briefly explain it. Then we open the discussion up. If it is a problem, we call on people to explain how it has been a problem to them. Then when that part has been covered, we ask people to brainstorm solutions to the problem. If we need to vote on which solution or solutions the group wants to try, then that is the next step. We ask that kids not repeat what others have said, so, if someone described what you wanted to say, then your hand should go down.
- Caller – this person calls on people with hands raised. They should give everyone who wants to speak a turn first before giving someone a chance to talk twice.
- Timer – this person keeps track of the time limit and lets us know when we’ve run out. We take a group vote about whether to continue past the time limit if the discussion isn’t finished. (A digital clock or timer is helpful for younger children.)
- Focus Person– this person keeps an eye out for anyone who is distracting others during the meeting. If there is disruptive behavior the “focuser” stops the meeting and asks for it to stop.
- Scribe – this person writes down all of the important decisions that were made during the meeting. We keep this in a loose-leaf notebook. It’s important to date each entry. The teacher will need to do this for younger children.
- Sharing – We have a sharing time in some of our meetings. One type of sharing is show and tell. We let 1/2 of the group bring something in to share, if they want, once every 2 weeks. Another type of sharing is golden shining moments. Each person in the group shares a special moment that happened to them during the past week. A child can pass, but we always come back to them if they just needed some extra time to think.