Morning Meeting in an Autism Classroom for Middle School Series

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I’ve noticed that many teachers have questions about how to run an age-appropriate morning meeting in a self-contained special education classroom. I was in their shoes at one point! Whenever these questions pop up, I can’t help but jump in with answers. I’ve got this down to a science in my classroom. Over the past two years, I’ve poured my heart and soul into perfecting every aspect of our morning meeting in an autism classroom. It’s now, hands-down, my favorite part of the day. So, if you’re curious about what makes morning meetings in my middle school autism classroom work so well, keep reading as I break down all the key components!

What is a Morning Meeting in an Autism Classroom?

So, what exactly is a morning meeting in an autism classroom? Well, it’s a fantastic way to start the day! In my classroom, a morning meeting sets the tone for a positive and structured day. It’s a dedicated time where we come together as a class to greet each other and review the day’s schedule. We also engage in fun, interactive activities that help build social and communication skills.

We kick things off with a cheerful greeting, which gives each student a chance to practice saying hello and making eye contact. This simple routine fosters a sense of community and belonging. Next, we go over the day’s agenda using visual schedules. This helps my students feel secure and prepared for what’s coming up.

Then, we dive into activities like sharing news, checking the weather, reviewing the lunch options, discussing a thought-provoking question, or playing a quick game. These activities are fun and also helpful for developing social interactions and emotional understanding. Trust me, when you see the progress your students make through these morning meetings, you’ll understand why it’s such an essential part of the day!

Breaking Down a Morning Meeting in an Autism Classroom

Now that you know what a morning meeting in an autism classroom is all about, let’s dive into the details! I’m excited to break down exactly what a typical morning meeting looks like in my classroom. From the warm greetings to the interactive activities, I’ll walk you through each part so you can see how it all comes together to create a supportive and engaging start to our day.

Morning Greetings

We always kick off our morning meetings with greetings. I make it a point to say hello to each of my students. I expect them to respond in whatever way they can. Some of my students are verbal and will say, “Good Morning, Mrs….,” while others use AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) to greet me.

After that, I encourage my students to take turns greeting each other. This simple exercise goes a long way in building a strong sense of community among my students. It also helps them feel more comfortable responding to others in different settings like the hallway, lunch, or their inclusion classes.

I had a student once who became such a pro at greeting that she would say hello to anyone who walked through our classroom door—even if she had already greeted them three times that day! We then worked on understanding when to greet, but I was thrilled with her enthusiasm and efforts.

Calendar and Weather

Next up, we dive right into our calendar and weather activities. For this part of a morning meeting in an autism classroom, we use our handy morning meeting binders. I’ve tried out various resources created by other teachers, and I’ve found a great mix that works well for us.

A big favorite in our classroom is the materials from The Autism Helper. The content is engaging, and my students really connect with it. I also incorporate items from the Core materials of the Unique Learning System. This combination has made our calendar and weather routine not only educational but also a lot of fun!

morning meeting autism classroomLunch Menu

It’s exactly what it sounds like—we read the lunch menu for the day! We take a moment to count how many people are having the main lunch option, whether it’s pizza, burgers, or something else. It’s a fun way to practice counting and get everyone excited about lunch.

We also chat about food groups and what types of foods are on the menu that day. This helps my students understand how to compose a healthy lunch. By discussing which foods belong to different food groups, I’m teaching them what a balanced meal should look like. It’s a small but important step in helping our students grasp the concept of good nutrition.

Asking and Answering Wh- Questions

I’ve experimented with this part of our morning meeting in many ways. I’ve tried out multiple resources, which I’ll share more about as this series continues. Currently, we use a picture and ask questions about it to create a sentence that describes the picture using Wh- questions. This approach has been effective in getting my students engaged and helping them practice their descriptive skills.

News2You

morning meeting autism classroom

Last but most certainly not least, let’s chat about how I incorporated News2You into our morning meeting. Every morning, we read a few pages of the latest News2You as a class. This part of our morning meeting is very flexible because there are so many activities you can do with it.

Each student has their own paper copy at their seat, while I use the Smart Board to display a copy that reads to them. My students are responsible for listening, tracking the print as the computer reads, and then answering my comprehension questions after we finish each page. It’s an engaging way to build literacy skills and keep everyone informed about current events.

Misconceptions of a Morning Meeting in an Autism Classroom

morning meeting autism classroom

A common misconception about morning meetings in an autism classroom is that they might be too babyish for secondary students. Here’s how I see it. I’m an adult, and I still use a calendar every day and check the weather to decide what to wear. So, why shouldn’t we discuss and practice these skills in middle school and high school classrooms?

I read menus to decide what I want to eat, and I read the newspaper or go online to catch up on the news. These are all practical, everyday activities that we can make more mature and age-appropriate for our students. By incorporating these elements into our morning meetings, we’re not only teaching essential life skills but also making them relevant to their own lives. There’s definitely a way to approach these concepts in a manner that respects our students’ ages while still ensuring they understand and benefit from them.

Getting Started With Morning Meetings

Setting up morning meetings can be overwhelming when just starting out. I’m excited to share with you my Morning Meeting Bundle, which is a complete toolbox of resources that can be used in your morning meetings! It includes both printable and digital materials to create an engaging and interactive experience for your students. The printable materials feature a bulletin board kit and four levels of differentiated interactive binders. These binders allow your students to participate actively from their seats while engaging with the calendar and weather activities displayed on the bulletin board. This setup not only helps in structuring the morning routine but also reinforces key concepts like days of the week, weather, and attendance.

The digital materials in the bundle include Google Slides, Boom Cards, and interactive PDFs. These resources offer a hands-on, interactive experience, whether it be on the smartboard or individual devices. I use these resources in a variety of ways, such as whole-class lessons, individual morning work, or even during virtual learning sessions. For extra practice, I use the Boom Cards to build student independence. I use the interactive PDFs and Google Slides presentations to cut back on prep time and help my students follow along. This bundle is perfect for promoting active participation and helping your students develop essential functional and social skills!

As you can see, there are multiple different materials needs to help morning meetings run smoothly. If you’re like me, you may want to test out the resource before fully jumping in. Check out this freebie for a morning meeting in an autism classroom that can help you develop a daily routine.

Printable task cards are included that review important skills, such as counting money or identify letter sounds.

Create a Routine with a Morning Meeting in an Autism Classroom

Creating a routine with a morning meeting in an autism classroom can truly transform the start of your day. By organizing engaging and structured activities, you provide a consistent framework that supports both social and functional skill development. From greetings and weather discussions to interactive news reading with News2You, each activity plays a role in setting a positive tone for the day. Bringing in these elements will make your morning meetings the highlight of the day. You will be able to grow a sense of community and help your students thrive. Give it a try and see the positive impact it has on your classroom!

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5 Responses

  1. I stumbled upon this, and I love it! I am a 3rd year Special Education teacher, but this is my first year teaching a high school autism room. I am planning on conducting morning meetings, and I love your idea of having the kids greet each other! I have 3 non-verbal kids (out of 4), so how would I go about them greeting one another?

    Thanks a lot!
    ~Rebecca

  2. Rebecca! So glad that you found me! My first question would be what AAC do those nonverbal kids use? I would start with those methods first. If it is PECS then creating PECS they can use to exchange to their greeting or using some sort of visual cue such as pointing to a core vocabulary board or using a device to say "Hello"! Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Hi! I am an autistic support high school teacher and this is my 4th year and I really want to step it up become much more organized. Any ideas? I have 2 high functioning, one that walked in grad but is back, another who is very hyper, one who is lower and then 2 nonverbal. I really want to incorporate work areas. Suggestions? Thank you so much!

  4. Hi! I am an autistic support high school teacher and this is my 4th year and I really want to step it up become much more organized. Any ideas? I have 2 high functioning, one that walked in grad but is back, another who is very hyper, one who is lower and then 2 nonverbal. I really want to incorporate work areas. Suggestions? Thank you so much!

  5. Hi Mary, If you have a wide spread of abilities I would suggest maybe doing two morning meeting groups. That what I did this year. I almost broke it in half by students that are higher functioning and verbal and my lower functional students that are mostly non-verbal and it has gone amazing!!