What do you do when you see your colleagues in the morning? You probably greet them in some way…maybe with hello or good morning. So, it only makes sense to do the same thing with your students as well. Establishing the routine of greeting every student, every day is a great way to engage with students. It may even become your favorite part of the day!

Here are a few reasons you may want to consider starting every day with hello.

  1. It is polite. When we see people we have not seen in a while, even if only for one day, it is polite to acknowledge them. By greeting students every day, you are modeling politeness and having students reciprocate. This helps students learn social norms and practice daily!
  2. It allows you to talk to every student. That moment you have as you greet a student may be the only time you have to personally talk to him or her during the day. Some class sizes are too large to hear from each student every day. Some lessons do not lend themselves to hearing from each student every day. Greeting every student provides an opportunity, even if it’s brief, to talk to every student every day.
  3. It shows your students you care. Greeting each student allows you to personally connect with students, if even for just a moment, showing that you care. It shows you are happy to have them at school for the day, and it makes them feel welcome in the classroom.
  4. It gives you a glimpse into how each student is feeling. As you look eye-to-eye with each student, you will easily be able to tell if he or she is happy, sleepy, sad, or excited to be at school. You can probe a little further if needed to find out why a student is unhappy or excited, providing another opportunity to connect.
  5. It gives students a fresh start. Many things can happen before students arrive at school: students may wake up late, not be able to find their shoes, or have a parent rushing them to get out the door. These and many other reasons may give arriving at school a less than ideal start. Having a smiling, friendly face and greeting can help give the day a fresh start. If needed, you can offer words of encouragement, such as, “You may have had a hard morning, but it’s going to be a great day at school!”

Hopefully by now, you are convinced that this is a routine you want to add to your schedule. Here are a few tips for making it work:

  • Look each student in the eyes and require that he or she look you in the eyes. Kneel down, if needed, to get eye-level. Note: In some cultures it is considered disrespectful to look adults in the eyes. Talk to students where this may be relevant and decide whether a different morning greeting is more appropriate.)
  • Create the expectation that students will greet you in some way. That’s a social skill that students need to learn and practice.
  • Allow students to say hello in another language and then respond with the same greeting.
  • Consider using a simple chant or call and response as an alternative greeting for “hello”. 
  • Some teachers use words to greet students. Others also include a handshake or high five. Still others choreograph elaborate handshakes with their students. All of these options serve the purpose of a friendly greeting.

Of course, you can add your own twist to your greeting routine. Do what works with your style and have fun with it. And oh ya, you might want to think about how your students exit the room, too!