Why Greeting Students Feels Good

I start every period of the day the same way.  When the bell stops ringing, I smile and say “Good morning, my wonderful ones” (or “Good Afternoon,” after lunch).  Each class responds differently. Some respond in unison with an energetic “Good Morning, Ms. Minkin,” some just say hello, some even mumble.  But I don’t care.  Even though I have already greeted each student at the door by this time, I still like this opening ritual.

One of my colleagues told me that she thought my ritual was hokey.  But it makes us all feel good.  Let’s start with me. 

Pause-and-Greet-Students

Teacher Greeting Students

I get the chance to pause before we begin the day’s lesson and concentrate on the students before me.  I get to look at them.  I get to remember that they are largely full of hope, potential and eagerness.  

I get to see them as individual young people, not a collection of kids dropped on to my roster.  I get the chance to express my belief that, while they are impulsive, exasperating and whiny at times, they are, by virtue of their youth and their humanity, truly and perfectly, wonderful.  

When I know that, I teach better. Always.

School Rituals

From the smiles on many of their faces, I think this classroom ritual makes them feel good, too. For some students, this will be the only moment they talk in class. For others, it will be the only moment they talk at a time that talking is welcome.  Their other contributions will still be the kind that are blurted out every moment an idea comes into their no-impulse-control-but-still-precious brains.

Greet-Your-Students

For others, it is a chance to connect to learning when that connection is difficult.  I have a troubled student who stares into space for long stretches during the period. She produces almost no work. But, at this precious moment, where she can vow again to apply herself to school, she shines.  She belts out, “Good morning, Ms. Minkin” daily.  

Last year, she when we went on our summer break (yes, I have them for two years), she said she would miss my morning greeting and asked me to record it into her phone. Maybe she was being campy or silly, but she was also being authentic.  Why is it important to her? The daily validation? The constancy?  The chance to yell in class?  I don’t know.

But, I like it.

How do you greet your students? What school rituals or class routines do you use? Is greeting students important to you? Please share your ideas below.

2 Comments

  • Sharon Ritchie

    Reply Reply December 12, 2016

    I have spent the last decade (plus) working with PreK-3rd grade teachers to establish the importance…essence…necessity of positive relationships with their students. I completely agree with you about the vital nature of interactions in the classroom. We work on this through the development of a risk free environment, consistent envrionmental and personal messages that they are valued for their culture, language, gender and self, that they belong in school, and that you know who they are both academically and socially. Students, especially our most vulnterable students, cannot optimize their learning without positive relationships with their teachers. Good for you for pushing this agenda

    • Melissa

      Reply Reply December 19, 2016

      Thank you, Sharon. The work you have been doing is so important and I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

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