August 20, 2016

The Power of Greeting Students at the Door

One thing I recommend to all teachers is to greet their students at the door. Every day. Without fail. This simple task takes just a little time, yet reaps huge rewards. Greeting students will have a positive impact on your classroom culture by establishing a one-on-one connection. When your students get a friendly smile, handshake and short interaction they know you've 'seen' them. You've given them the gift of affirmation and it's powerful. Looking to make a change? Try this one!

Now, greeting students at the door does NOT mean calling hello and waving from across the room while pulling papers for the day's lessons. Putting this concept into practice requires you to be organized and ready to go before that bell rings. You need to be 'on' and smiling.

Start simple. Stand in the doorway so you can keep an eye on the hall and your classroom at the same time. As each child approaches shake their hand, make eye contact, smile and say "Good Morning _______". Some kids need specific coaching on how to do all of those things in response. This is a great time to explain what a comfortable, firm handshake feels like... voice volume... what does eye contact mean? Those few moments give you the chance get a read on the general class mood - and connect with those needing some extra attention. Once you have established this classroom routine students crave it and you will too!

Ready to take it to the next level? Revisit concepts or prep for the day with a Good Morning! Message. Print and cut the Good Morning! Messages. Hang a plastic sleeve and slip a message inside for students to read. They're automatic conversation starters. These are short and open-ended messages so all can be successful. Good Morning! Messages are meant to get kids in the school mode, promote positive and joyful interaction and are fast. Some messages require simple materials like coins, a clock, or something written on a whiteboard yet all are flexible. It is easy to differentiate based on ability or grade. I've used these messages with second, third and fifth graders! You may have some emerging readers unable to be independent with these messages. This is not an issue. Point at the words as you read it out loud to them. They then think and respond. As students get more confident in reading they grow more independent.
This collection has over 210 messages organized by literacy, math, holiday, special events and just plain fun tasks. The cards are not meant to be used in order, but rather mix and match depending on what is going on that day. Students look forward to variety! You can also create your own Good Morning! Messages focused on curriculum content by adding onto the blank page at the end of the General Messages.

Ready to take it even further? Save precious classroom time by expecting students to make their lunch choice and have their homework in hand while waiting for you! Post the lunch choices and sign up sheet in the form of a class roster next to the door. While waiting in line (teaching kids how to wait in line may be necessary too) students read the menu and put an x next to their lunch choice - both those who are buying and bringing from home. Everyone must sign up so when the tardy bell rings you'll have lunch AND attendance count ready to send to the office. Write the homework that is due that day on a whiteboard. Train kids to get those papers out of their backpack and collect their homework on the spot. Keep a homework completion roster on hand to easily identify kids needing encouragement, support or a note home. This is a huge time saver!

Using Good Morning! Messages has also helped my students put part of the question in their answer! It allows daily oral practice and I can quickly model/reteach in seconds. Students know once they enter it is time for Morning Work and getting settled in. Reinforcing behavior expectations is key – and doable.

Greeting students at the door is almost guaranteed to change your classroom culture. Let me know what you think!

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