There has been a growing trend of viral videos that show the inventive and unique ways teachers greet their students at the door before starting their lesson.
It is interesting to consider: are there potential pros and cons of doing so? In order to find out, we dug around the research to see what we could find…
What does the research say?
Recent research has suggested that students’ classroom behaviour can be improved if teachers greet their students at the door.
In one particular study, researchers found that students’ academic engagement was enhanced and disruptive behaviour reduced in classes where students were greeted positively at the door.
What does a positive greeting at the door entail?
The greeting can include a positive social interaction which can be verbal (e.g. using the student’s name) or non-verbal (for example, a handshake).
It can also be used to remind students of behaviours that result in academic success, with an emphasis being placed on giving encouraging messages to students who misbehaved the previous day.
Finally, offering positive reinforcement (e.g. praise) to students who have arrived on time could hopefully reduce future tardiness, by encouraging them to be on time again.
Why Might Greeting Students at the Door Help?
Increases Student Engagement
Positive greetings at the door have been shown to allow a smoother transition to the classroom environment from the previous environment, such as a noisy corridor or break time. This means that, when students enter the classroom, a positive tone has already been set and they are ready to learn and engage. In the study mentioned above, greeting students at the door led to an extra 12 minutes of task engagement per instructional hour.
Creates Positive Teacher-Student Relationships
Greeting students at the door enhances teacher-student relationships, as teachers can demonstrate an interest in each student and get to know them better on a personal level through this. Having this positive relationship makes teachers more approachable, meaning that students are more likely to feel comfortable asking for assistance and engage, and respect their teacher.
Increases Sense of Belonging
This strategy can also help enhance students’ sense of belonging, which often leads to better academic achievement when improved. Greeting all students at the door makes them feel valued and part of a team, where no one gets preferential treatment. Feelings of cohesion also encourage stronger relationships between peers and facilitate effective group learning, which can enhance student’s personal and social development, alongside improving their effort and engagement.
Are there any downside to greeting students at the door?
Whilst recent research has demonstrated the positive impact greeting students at the door can have, it is important to consider that this strategy may not be suitable for all students or every school environment.
Tes recently reported that greeting each student at the door with a particular handshake, hug, high five etc. may force teachers into unwanted physical contact, which leaves them vulnerable to assault. Furthermore, for students who are introverts, having to shake someone’s hand at the door may be a source of anxiety, as there is the potential for it to create unwanted attention or cause feelings of embarrassment.
It is also worth considering that, when classes are large, greeting each student individually at the door may be too time consuming. This time could be better spent teaching new material to students. Finally, in terms of the practicalities, this strategy is not conducive to all spaces: if every class is using this strategy, corridors could become cramped etc.
It remains to be seen if the recent craze of unique and personalised greetings to students at the start of a lesson is here to stay or will be consigned to history as a mere passing fad. It has the potential to offer a gateway to a more engaged and less disruptive classroom if appropriate and managed well. Only time will tell.