Why do we start each day with a handshake and morning verse? Begin as you mean to go on -- a sentiment often quoted and attributed to many, and applicable to the conscious manner in which our grade school students begin each morning. When the bell rings and the children are dismissed inside to their classrooms, they begin their school day with a handshake and a greeting from their teacher. This deliberate beginning on the part of the teacher offers a moment of being seen for each child, perhaps an opportunity to share a brief story, to ask a question. Once inside the classroom, the class stands together to say their morning verse. The morning verses are recognizable at Waldorf schools worldwide, written by Rudolf Steiner, and further the opportunity to settle into the day. The verses ground each student, mindfully highlighting wonder, awe and the human spirit. In the upper grades, the verse goes: I look into the world / In which the sun is shining / In which the stars are sparkling / In which the stones repose / Where living plants are growing / Where sentient beasts are living / Where human souls on earth give dwelling to the spirit....To thee Creator-Spirit / I will now turn my heart / To ask that strength and blessing / For learning and for work / May ever grow with me. Lofty and warm words with which to begin the day! And it is this mindful and attentive start to each and every day throughout grade school that helps to honor and cultivate a robust inner life for each child.
--edited from the weekly school newsletter, April 14, 2015
On a related note, check out this opinion piece from the New York Times, published on April 17, 2015: Hey Kids Look At Me When We're Talking by Bruce Feiler.