By Melissa Hargis
Can you predict how your day will go the minute your students walk in the classroom? I can and you can too!
One of the most important techniques in my teaching toolbelt is to greet my students at the door every morning. This makes such an amazing and powerful impact on each student’s day and ultimately my day, too. That bell rings and I am standing by my doorway waiting for those cute faces to enter. I start each greeting with a handshake, high-five, or hug. Each student walks down the hallway signaling to me which one of those greetings they would like today. A child’s wide-open arms coming down the hallway means they need a hug, putting that hand high in the air means they are looking for a high-five, or hands out in front means they are ready to shake a hand.
Our greeting doesn’t end there. I ask them a few quick questions about their morning and what happened last night. Now, in the beginning of the year I may get the same great, ok, and good responses but as the year progresses and a trust is built, they quickly know I am asking them because I care. I am not only looking for answers to these questions, but I am listening to the tone of their voice and their body language. These are signals that inform me that a student may need my help and guidance to help them turn their day around. As soon as I have a break in students walking through the door or that second bell has rung, I am turning those greetings into actions. I pull those kids up quietly and quickly and we talk about what happened, what can I do to help them, and how we together can make this into a better day.
I believe you can help that child with these few, simple actions turn their day that may have started out with anger, sadness, or fear into calmness, happiness, and safety. You and your other 20-plus students will benefit and grow into a tried and true classroom community!
Melissa Hargis is a third-grade teacher at Sherwood Elementary in the Fox C-6 School District.