Each morning I wait by my classroom door. I wait with a smile.
I hope that will make a difference.
You really can’t over emphasize the importance of that simple gesture.
I don’t ask my students if they have their homework or anything else that has to do with school. I don’t remind them about classroom rules as they sit down.
And I do have to remind myself at times to have the kind of human interaction I would want to have if I were walking into my third grade class. The first thing really shouldn’t be about writing in a journal or turning in last night’s homework – it should just be about a little kindness.
Often many of my students say good morning to me before I have a chance to say it first. We do in fact spend some time at the beginning of the year talking about the importance of kindness. And yes, reminders on this one have to happen occasionally.
But then it happens… a good morning shared by not just that one student whose day is almost always a challenge, but like dominoes the others behind him chime in too. A steady stream of greeting as they unpack their backpacks.
There’s a lot of joy in hearing that from a third grader. No matter how my morning routine has evolved over the last couple of hours, hearing them share some enthusiasm at the beginning of the day encourages me.
It erases my worries about the state tests that are coming closer by the day or the necessity of finishing the reading assessments.
I admit to you though, if my students don’t immediately get started on that morning work after they come into my classroom… it annoys me. However I remind myself that if it was me, I would choose to talk with a friend too.
I’m not a factory worker making widgets that have to meet some consistent standard. I don’t slap an Inspected by #47 sticker on their foreheads as they leave every day. That would be odd.
I just ask them how they are. How their weekend went. What the best part of last night was or how their little sister is doing.
If I can get a smile or laugh out of them, that’s even better.
Kids are honest. I think the younger they are, the more honesty you get in return. If they know that you care about how their night really went, you’re also going to get some interesting responses which in turn requires you to spend some time really listening to their stories.
The replies have reminded me that our job isn’t to teach objectives. Our job is to teach little people. Little humans. Children that have struggles and successes.
My students worry and are stressed. They know when things aren’t good at home and why that is. If their parents worry about money, so do they. If people at home let on that times are tough, they embrace that despair too.
Like little sponges, they’re taking it all in. It surprises me how resilient they really are as they endure what happens around them – whether at home, in the grocery store, or on the way to school.
Knowing this, I try to encourage conversation that’s upbeat. That doesn’t dwell on what isn’t, but what can be.
And I start that conversation by a simple hello and smile standing at my classroom door.
I’m curious and would love to hear what do you do in your classroom to start off the day?