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Meeting and Greeting Students at the Beginning of Class

The “meet and greet” that teachers do before class begins seems to be a critical benchmark for many students. They tell me how much it means when teachers hang out by the door saying “Hello” and calling students by name. Furthermore, kids say that teachers who “meet and greet” are the ones who also care about them personally, and this personal interest motivates them to do better in class.

It's easy to assume that this is a common practice, yet, my informal polling with students indicates that this is the exception and not the rule. “Meet and greet” doesn't need to happen every day – two or three times a week is fine. And varying what you do keeps students guessing about what's going to happen in class today!

5 Ways to Meet and Greet

  1. In the beginning of the year when you're trying to match names to faces, ask each student to say her or his name as she or he walks in so that you can hear it and repeat it.

  2. Shake hands and say students' names as they walk in the door.

  3. As students arrive, make comments to individuals that let them know that you notice who they are.

    • Say something about their appearance – a new hairdo, a cool T-shirt, unusual earrings, a different color finger nail polish, a jacket you like, etc.

    • Ask or comment about things that kids are doing outside of your classroom – sports events, extra curricular activities, other events and projects that students participate in inside and outside of school.
    • Give students positive feedback about something they've done well in class recently.

  4. Cut up a bunch of 2” x 2” inch squares and write the numbers from 1 to 10 on different squares. As students come in say hello, and ask them to pick a number from one to ten in your basket that indicates how they're feeling right now – ten (I'm ready, focused, feeling good) to one (I'm tired, grumpy, and would rather be any place else). When everyone's seated ask students to hold up their numbers to get a read where people are. You might want to do a quiet energizer that helps everyone to focus.

  5. Once a quarter give each student a personal written greeting that mentions something you appreciate about their presence in your class. Alternate weeks for different classes so you create a cycle that you can repeat every quarter. One way to make this less daunting is to put a list of 30 or 40 appreciation responses on your computer. You can write in the students' names, print out your messages, and cut them into strips. For example:

    • Dear Cho, I know that talking in class is not your favorite thing, so I have really appreciated your participation in small group work.

    • Dear Alicia, I've noticed that you've been on time for the last two weeks. I really appreciate the effort you've made to do this.

    • Dear Manuel, Thanks for participating in the discussions we've been having. Your questions have challenged all of us to be really clear about what we mean.

    • Dear Mia, I have really appreciated when you've been helping to pick up and organize stuff at then end of class. It makes it so much easier to do projects when people are ready to pitch in. Thanks!

    • Dear Greg, I know this is not an easy class for you, so everyday you're here shows that you're willing to stick with it and keep trying. I appreciate your tenacity.

Adapted from Partners in Learning: From Conflict to Collaboration by Carol Miller Lieber.

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