Saturday, August 6, 2016

Meet & Greet: It’s more than being a hallway monitor

Meet & Greet: It’s more than being a hallway monitor
Paul Bailey

Early in my teaching career the building administration required all teachers to stand at their doors in the hallways. This request was to establish an adult presence in the hallway to monitor student behaviors. Throughout the days of standing by the door during class change, I started to talk the neighboring classroom teacher, students as they entered the room, and acknowledging students as they pass. Pretty soon I realized that some of the information I was able to collect in 4 minutes could aide in a successful class for every student in my class. During the ‘Meet and Greet’ that occurred between class change, I was able to ask students questions about their day, weekend, extracurricular activities, and/or previous night’s homework.

When I would ask a kid about their day, I could get insight on their emotional level at the moment. Some students may be having a bad day, but would not explicitly say they were. However, over time and through discussions, I would be able to identify these types of days in students depending upon their responses and overall demeanor.

-Some students would answer that they were tired today in class because of late night athletics, babysitting younger relatives, arguing parents, etc. At this moment, I would offer the student suggestions on staying awake in my class, “You can sit in the back of the room and stand when you begin dozing off,” “when you become tired, sign a pass to use the restroom and get a drink of water,” and the effective, but not used often by students “if you sit in your desk with one foot lifted off the ground, you won’t fall asleep as long as the foot is raised.” I don’t know if the last statement has been proven to be true, but it kept me awake many mornings in my Wide Area Networking lecture during my undergrad. It was always helpful to know who the sleepy students were before class so they were not a spectacle during class. A nodding student would draw attention from the other students in the class. Effective teachers would need to address a sleeping student during class. Without a compassionate ‘Meet and Greet,’ the sleeping student may respond negatively towards the teacher’s request.

-Some students would inform me they were having a bad day because of a friend or another student in the school. If both of the disagreeing students were in the class, I would suggest that the student sit in another seat away from the other student. This would help for students to feel safe and comfortable learning in my classroom.

-Sometimes students would not say anything or even look in my direction when they entered class. This would alert me to pay attention to that student’s actions during class to determine their emotional status for that day.

At extracurricular activities, I would pay particular attention to the students in my class. The next day I would make it a point to let them know that I noticed something about their activity, “that was a great solo you had at last night’s musical,” “you were really battling with that guy/girl underneath the hoop last night,” “that was a great defensive stop you had on that breakaway,” “the band sounded great at the game on Friday, what was it like marching in the rain?” This type of ‘Meet and Greet’ gave me some information on the student’s emotional status that day, but more importantly it allowed me to bank some elasticity with the student through the relationship building that conversations and caring creates. The elasticity needs to be built up because there will come a day when that student needs to be pushed farther or faster. The elasticity will help the student(s) to not react negatively towards being pushed, instead the student will believe that you are pushing for one reason…you care about him/her and only want him/her to be successful. Elasticity will allow for the student to bounce back from being pushed and not snap.

“Students don’t care about how much you know
until they know how much you care.”

My recommendation is the use the ‘Meet and Greet’ to start the class on a positive note. Give out handshakes, fist bumps, high fives, low fives, an acknowledging nod, or any gesture/comment to let every student know that you notice them. I hope not, but you may be the only person throughout the entire day to acknowledge some students.

Multiple Choice Question: What would you prefer to be the first thing you hear from your teacher?
A.     Get out your homework
B.     I am glad to see you today

Answer Choice B lets the student know that you actually want them in class. Some students believe that teachers do not like them. Imagine how that kid would feel if someone was glad to see them. The acceptance from an adult into class most likely will start the class off on the right foot for a student that is used to starting class on the wrong foot.

Other Meet and Greet statements
A.     General Greetings: Welcome, Hello, How are you doing?, Good Day, Top of the Morning, Släinte, Hola, Bonjour, etc.
B.     ‘We have a great class planned for today’ or ‘today’s lesson is going to be amazing’
C.     ‘Thank you for coming to class today.’
a.      When I was working at a department store through college, I had this manager that would come up to me every day we worked together and shake my hand saying “Thanks for coming in today.” I knew he was making the statement in jest, but it still made me feel important to the operations of the retail establishment.
D.     I like statements. ‘I like those shoes,’ ‘I like the way you have styled your hair today,’ ‘I like those glasses,’ etc.
E.      Use a Nice statement, ‘That is a nice shirt you have one’
a.      I usually say this to students that have on athletic team attire that I have an interest in such as the colleges I attended, professional sports teams I follow, or just a standard shirt from our high school. This makes the student feel good but also provides them with information about my interests and opens up future follow up discussions.
F.      Use humor to joke with students that wear Michigan Wolverine or Cleveland Browns attire. I am from Ohio and am a Cincinnati Bengals fan. This usually gets a smile or chuckle from the student.
“Your smile will give you a positive countenance
that will make people feel comfortable around you.”
Les Brown

Don’t forget to smile and laugh around students to let them know that you like them and care about them.

The ‘Meet and Greet’ is one tool for your tool belt. In order to be a masterful teacher, the ‘Meet and Greet’ needs to be used in conjunction with a multitude of sound teaching practices. The ‘Meet and Greet’ will help you to begin class in a positive manner, your other tools will allow you to successfully complete the day’s task of effectively teaching. 

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