The power of a greeting in the classroom
Every day as students enter my classroom, I stand at the door and greet them. Whether it’s with a handshake, a hug, a fist bump, or just a wave, these simple gestures have power beyond measure. Adding a greeting in the classroom is something all teachers should consider. Here’s why…
According to the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness, in 2017, approximately 1.3 million children were homeless at some point during the year. In addition to this, childrensrights.org says, nearly 438,000 children are in the foster care system in the United States, with 12% of these children living in group homes or institutions.
This does not even include the 5 million children in domestic violence situations each year according to the Childhood Domestic Violence Association or in homes where parents are deployed (according to dosomthing.org over 900,000 children have had one or both parents deployed multiple times).
This means at least 6.7 million kids are in situations where tensions are high, depression and anxiety are elevated, and connections with loved ones are often missing or strained.
For these kids, a simple gesture of hello or another greeting in the classroom, 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, but a greeting has been shown to build confidence, promote self-respect, and encourage positive feelings about one’s self.
Even if you live in an area of affluence with both parents present and students are well taken care of, a greeting can go a long way to build self-respect and confidence. A smile, bright eyes, a welcoming grin, a 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. I’ve even had the saddest and most traumatized kids make it through day after day inside my classroom. All because I stopped and showed them how much I care before we began each day.
4 ways to implement a greeting in the classroom
1. You can simply stand at the door and shake hands as students approach.
2. You can let students choose their form of greeting (handshake, fist bump, wave, high five, etc.) and greet them in a way they feel comfortable. For a printable resource, click the image above.
3. You can let each student create their own greeting or handshake and greet each student in a unique way.
4. If you’re really busy, (although not advised) assign a student to greet students for you. It’s still better than nothing!
What do you think of greetings in the classroom? How do YOU greet students?