Whether you’re teaching at a public, private, or Sunday school, there’s something special about morning greetings. It’s not just your intuition or good manners that tells you it’s the right thing to do; greeting students at the door is an evidence-based practice in education.
Greeting your students at the door is a great way to start the day off on the right foot and set the tone for your classroom. Here are some reasons why you should greet your students at the door, as well as some tips on how to do it effectively.
Why should teachers use morning greetings at the door?
After you’ve been teaching for a while, it can become tempting to abandon your post at the door, to focus on tidying your room for the next class, or to seat your students at the first possible moment. It can seem easier to simply focus on greeting students once they’re already inside, seated and ready to go, but greeting is an opportunity for connection, not just a preparation for instruction.
Teachers often miss opportunities to build their relationship with students by greeting them as they are entering the room. For that reason, there are some challenging kids who will get a behavioral correction before ever getting a hug, high five, or kind smile. That’s not good for anyone!
Further, if research shows that greeting students at the door minimizes behavior problems in the class, it will help teachers keep their heads above water, too. So many teachers burn out because they simply don’t have the skills needed to manage the large number of challenging behavior problems in schools today, nor do they get the level of support needed from their administrative and coaching teams. If teachers can find ways to make class run more smoothly, they’ll be more likely to continue working and improving their craft.
Research about Greeting Students at the Door
According to Edutopia, a recent study has been done that included 203 students across 10 classrooms in which some teachers implemented a procedures for positive greetings at the door, and the control group did not. The results were statistically significant – that students who were greeted at the door were more engaged in learning and less disruptive to the class.
Are you a new teacher? Check out these 25 practical tips to help you get off to a great start.
How do you greet a student at the door?
There’s no wrong way to greet students at the door, as long as you’re being your most welcoming self. If greeting students with hugs is the way that works best for you, your school or district, then that’s what you should do. If greeting students with high fives feels like the most natural greeting for you and your students, then go for it!
One of my favorite ways to greet students at the door has become letting them choose their own greeting. It’s a daily habit, so it doesn’t slow down the pace of class. At the same time, it protects students’ feeling of personal safety and provides another way of building student autonomy.
If you’d like to let students choose their own doorway greeting, there is a free poster for your classroom door at the bottom of this post.
What Matters Most about Morning Greetings
While there’s very few wrong ways to greet at student at the door, here are the things you should keep in mind.
The most important thing about greeting students at the door is to form a connection before class begins. This can be done in so many different ways, and it should feel authentic to you and your students. If you hate hugs, then don’t make hugging an option! If you’re a germophobe and don’t want to shake hands, then you don’t have to do that, either. The greeting that works best for you and your students is the greeting that should be used.
Forgiveness and a Fresh Start
Some students struggle to behave, and not every teacher and child will mesh perfectly. We aren’t superheroes; it’s completely normal that some kids will drive us insane. And we won’t be every kid’s favorite teacher.
Regardless of how much effort one puts into teaching, mistakes will happen.
Teachers need forgiveness in order to continue teaching. Students need it so they can learn from their mistakes and do better next time.
Greeting kids at the door with a smile is one way to get a fresh start. It’s also a great moment to say “I’m sorry,” or “Hey, let’s do better together today. I’m rooting for ya, kiddo!”
Warmth and Naming Names
It’s so important to call students by their names when you greet them at the door, because it helps them feel welcome and respected. You’ll get to know them better if you use their names in a positive way, and they will learn to trust you and be more willing to work with you throughout the year.
Another great reason for greeting students at the door is that it gives an opportunity for greeting students in a warm, welcoming way. Be careful that as time goes on, you don’t get lazy with this special moment. Pretend each day that you’re greeting the kids with the same curiosity and excitement as you felt on the first day of school.
Wanna treat yourself? Here’s a great list of stuff teachers actually need for the classroom.
Morning Greetings for Students at the Classroom Door – Free Posters
This free poster set includes 6 greetings on 12 pages of printable doorway greetings for students. Laminate, cut, and stick them on your door. Just have students tap their preferred greeting as they enter your room!
Each of the 6 greetings are printed in two different frames – the wavy one shown below and a simpler square shape for quicker cutting.