Greeting Students at the Door: Helpful or Hype?

 In Support for Struggling Readers

We’ve all seen the cute videos on social media of primary teachers giving their students a hug, a handshake or a high five outside the classroom door.  But did you know that PGD – Positive Greeting at the Door – works just as well for middle and high school students?

Spending a few moments welcoming students into the classroom promotes a sense of belonging, builds community and gives students social and emotional support.  And a 2018 study of middle grade students found that greeting students at the door produced significant improvements in learning and behavior as well.

According to an article on the Edutopia website, “when teachers started class by welcoming students at the door, academic engagement increased by 20 percentage points and disruptive behavior decreased by 9 percentage points—potentially adding an additional hour of engagement over the course of a five-hour instructional day.Check out this YouTube video on the study.

Not bad for a routine that involves no prep, no grading, and not much effort!

An internet search will yield many examples of teachers from Kindergarten to College, greeting their students, including a high school physics teacher who greets every one of his 155 students with their name and a handshake and a middle school teacher who has a unique handshake for every student.

Research tells us that a PGD should include making eye contact and using the student’s name, as well as some or all of the following:

  • A quick word of encouragement or question (e.g., “Looking good today, James” or “How was your hockey game last night, Jen?”)
  • A “pre-corrective statement” reminding students about behaviours they need to exhibit in order to have a successful day (e.g, Be sure to put your name on your homework and turn it in or Don’t forget to exchange your library book before reading time.)
  • An interactive, nonverbal gesture, such a a handshake or high five.  Concerned about hand contact?  Try one of these:
    • elbow bump
    • bow to the other person
    • shimmy, shake or twist
    • two thumbs up
    • air high five
    • sign language applause (or jazz hands)
    • toe tap
    • salute
    • hip bump
    • namaste (hands together like a prayer, nod head)









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