Every day as students enter my classroom, I stand at my door and greet them. Whether it's with a handshake, a hug, a fist bump, or just a wave, this simple gesture has power beyond measure and it's something you might want to consider adding to your teaching repertoire.
In 2017, approximately 1.3 million children were homeless at some point during the year.  In addition to this, nearly 438,000 children are in the foster care system in the United States, with 12% of these kids living in group homes or institutions.  This does not even include the children in domestic violence situations (5 million children each year ) or in homes where parents are deployed (over 900,000 children have had one or both parents deployed multiple times ).
Thus, with at least 6.7 million kids in situations where tensions are high, depression and anxiety are elevated, and connections with loved ones are often missing or strained, a simple gesture of hello in the morning, or whenever your class may be, can help make a connection with a student who may not otherwise get to make a positive connection with an adult that day. Not only does it allow for a basic connection with a student, a greeting has been shown to build confidence, promote self-respect, and encourage positive feelings about ones self.
Even if you live in an area of affluence where both parents are present and students are well taken care of, a greeting can go a long way to build self-respect, confidence, and respect. A smile, bright eyes, and a welcoming grin, joke, or gesture can put students at ease and earn you a well-disciplined student for the day. While simply learning how to correctly shake hands can earn students a lifetime of respect.
Besides the statistics, isn't it just obvious that a greeting can warm even the coldest spirit? I've had the grumpiest students brighten up and become engaged in my class just because I met them at the door and exchanged pleasantries with them. And I've had the saddest kids and kids traumatized by outside events make it through day after day after day inside my classroom, because I stopped and showed them how much I care before we began each day. It's just a simple, “hello,” or, “How are you doing?” or, “I missed you,” and you've shown them that you care, thus making a connection with a student, and allowing many doors of opportunity to be opened.
There are many ways to implement a morning greeting in your classroom. Here are just a few…
- You can simply stand at the door and shake hands as students approach.
- You can let students choose their form of greeting (handshake, fist bump, wave, high five, etc.) and greet each student in a way that they feel comfortable. For a printable resource you can hang outside your room to let students choose their greeting, click here.
- You can let each student create their own greeting or handshake and greet each student in a unique way.
- If you're really busy, (although not advised) assign a student to greet students for you. It's better than nothing.
So, how do you greet your students? Comment below, and let me know.
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