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Meeting and Greeting Students at the Beginning of Class

Are you overlooking a simple opportunity to affect student outcomes?

The amount of effort a teacher puts into meeting students is a critical benchmark for most children at the secondary level. Use these tips and strategies for impacting academic performance, behavior, attitude, and more - simply by offering a friendly greeting to your students a couple of times a week.
Grades:
9 |
10 |
11 |
Themes:

Meet, Greet, Repeat

The “meet and greet” that teachers do before class begins seems to be a critical benchmark for many students. They almost always respond positively when teachers hang out by the door saying “Hello” and calling them 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 – notice a new hairdo, a cool T-shirt, unusual earrings, a different color fingernail 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.  If possible, keep track of these important events and ask follow-up questions ("How did your softball game go the other day?")
    • Give students positive feedback about something they've done well in class recently.

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  4. Cut up a bunch of 2” x 2” inch squares and write the numbers from 1 to 10 on different squares, and put them into a basket. Greet students as they come in, and ask them to pick a number from one to ten from the 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 feel for where people are. If you see a lot of low numbers, 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 make a master list of 30 or 40 appreciation responses in Word or Docs ahead of time. 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.
Be Consistent

As with most things related to teaching (and dealing with students), consistency is key. This strategy may work better on some days (or weeks) than others. The important thing is to keep doing it!  The results might not always be evident, but your students will notice and appreciate your consistency.

 

   

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

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