One of the best things we have built into our daily morning meeting schedule this year is “Good News, Bad News.” Morning Meeting is run by our student of the week. The meeting is divided into different sections. After saying our school creed, we have “Good News, Bad News.” This is an opportunity for students to share something about what is going on in their lives. For students living in deep poverty, as my students do, it can often be a very emotional and “heavy” time of sharing. It can be an eye opening window into the lives my students live on a daily basis. In the course of this year, I have dealt with the violence of a mother being stabbed, a father being shot during a robbery, and a student who witnessed his dog being killed by another dog, On the positive side, we have learned about the joys of families finding stable/permanent housing, birthday celebrations, moms graduating from the “Bridge to Life” program, moms getting their GEDs, and children being reunited with their parents after incarceration.
I have found that the open conversations which result from “Good News, Bad News,” have helped some children realize and understand “they are not not alone” in their life experiences, and that they can be open and honest with their feelings. This allows for us to talk about how our school is a safe place, both physically and emotionally, for them to share their lives with others. These discussions help students learn and practice active listening, as well as develop empathy for others. This is tremendously important. While this is not something on a standardized test or a graph of academic skills, these conversations are helping my students develop many of the most important attitudes and abilities which they can take with them on their journey through life.