Class greetings implementation allows for students to share their family's way of greeting one another. Through sharing, students begin to learn about each other's culture and home life and make comparisons that might not have otherwise been made. The teacher facilitates a conversation, records discussion points, and refers to students' preferences daily upon greeting students at his/her door. This process fosters community and respect among students and their teacher.
One major aspect of CRTL is to establish inclusion. Create an environment in which the learners and teachers feel comfortable, respected and connected to one another. One way this can be done is to greet the students as they enter the classroom—and with a smile. Before jumping into the topic of the day, take a few moments to chat about the weekend, a culture event that is coming soon, or how their classes are going. These brief conversations allow the students to feel as if they belong in the class.
Before implementing this strategy, read the Welcoming Rituals resource linked below as well as BetterLesson's Thresholding to Greet Students at the Door strategy in order to build your background knowledge about the importance of class greetings.
During a designated class meeting time (to learn more about morning meetings, consult BetterLesson's Morning Meeting strategy below) do the following:
discuss the importance of greeting one another and the teacher's purpose of greeting students upon entry into a classroom.
ask students how they greet their family members, or whomever they live with, in their home and record those greetings on an anchor chart. Some examples could include handshakes, hi-fives, verbal greetings, etc. (Be sure to ask permission from students to put their responses on the anchor chart before doing so.)
Be sure to share how you greet your own family members as well.
identify connections among the types of greetings students use at home to form connections.
Determine with each student how she/he would like to be greeted when entering the classroom by you and by their classmates. Make an anchor chart of these greetings to display in the classroom and be sure to adhere to them.
Display the anchor chart close to the entry of the classroom so students can be reminded of the connections they have with one another.
This strategy is a visual representation of connections students (and teachers) have with one another. Referring back to the anchor chart might help an EL student feel comfortable with someone with whom they might not have otherwise felt comfortable. This strategy also allows for all students to explore their culture and feel comfortable, even when away from home.
Consider drawing images or gluing photos of the types of greetings each student likes to receive on the anchor chat to have a visual representation.
How will I make this meaningful for students who may not have a stable home life?
How do I ensure that I am not projecting my cultural expectations and beliefs on others? How do I handle a situation if a student shares an alarming greeting from their home life?
Helpful tip: If a student shares an alarming greeting, validate the student by responding in one of the following ways:
Say, "Thank you for sharing, and I am sorry that happened."
Say, "That is something that might make others feel uncomfortable, and we don't greet at school that way."
Say, "Class, that response was not appropriate for school and we will not respond like that." (Only say this if a student is being disruptive on purpose, not if they are being serious about a greeting).
If a student's response is concerning, immediately notify a counselor and/or a school administrator about the context of the report and what the student says. Also, at an appropriate time, discuss with the student how he/she is feeling, in case they need support in the moment, such as a brain break or to talk to the counselor in the moment.
This would be a great strategy to implement at the beginning of the year or after returning from an extended break. When doing so, you are setting expectations and allowing for students to bond with one another.
Consider adding other teachers' greetings on the anchor chart as well.