Ever wake up feeling less than perky? A bit grumpy? tired? Your emotional state can cloud the day pretty grey if something doesn’t happen to turn things around. This is why I make it a huge point to create as inviting an atmosphere in my workshops as possible – music, table groups, and most importantly, strong greetings. When possible, I do my best to welcome participants at the door. [Of course, there are exceptions – Sorry Flour Bluff ISD – There were about 750 of you.] The brain remembers the novelty inherent in beginnings and endings – so the way students enter our classrooms at the beginning of the year, and each school day, matters. A lot.
Need a simple strategy yielding continuous benefits? Assign the role of class greeter to one of your students each day. That person’s job is to stand at the door, welcome all who enter in the morning by making eye contact, shaking hands, and giving an appropriate greeting. The responsibilities continue throughout the day. If someone comes to the door, the greeter is the first face that person sees. “Welcome to our class. Miss Everett is teaching, but she will be with you in a minute – or is there something I can help you with? You can sit here if you would like while you wait. Would you like some water?” For younger students, teach them the phrase “Welcome Wagon” and tell them it is important for all students to have a chance to practice their skills at welcoming others. [You can even cut out a picture of a wagon and rotate pictures of your students to the front of it when it is their day to be the greeter.] This isn’t just a strategy for young children. The role is appropriate at all ages, but the title might be adapted. Older students can be called the class secretary, but the job remains the same – with perhaps, weekly duties of attendance collecting, etc.
The power of the strategy is in the teach piece. Talk to your students about their emotional state and the critical role of class climate, attitude, and affect. Also help them understand the importance of having a strong class community and the need for us to be able to interact with all members in the group, not just close friends. This topic makes for a great morning meeting / advisory period discussion.
The good news is that as educators, we have a chance to model this strategy every day through our own eye contact, shaking of hands, word choice, and positive attitudes. Emotions feed emotions, so do your best to create the type of atmosphere in your classroom you would want to be a part of. Have a great start to your school year.