Saturday, September 10, 2011

What Works: Greeting Students

There are some things that work in the classroom, and some things that just don't. That's what this blog is all about.

Our first What Works segment: greeting students as they enter the class. It may sound obvious, or unecessary, or unnatural, depending on your personality. Believe me. Just do it. It works.

Why it works:
Greeting students as they enter establishes yourself as the leader of the class. If students walk in and see you averting your eyes, pretending like you are busy, hiding behind your desk, etc., they do not view you as a leader. They may not view you as a coward, but definitely not as a leader. You may be able to establish it later on, but why bother? Just do it as they enter. It makes it easier for everyone.

Better yet – be standing out in the hall as they come in. That way they'll see you as they approach, rather than after they come in expecting to find their teacher.

How to implement it:
Say “Hi.”

Other tips of advice:
  • Use this opportunity to learn some names.
  • Engage in casual conversation if appropriate. “I like your shoes” or “nice Iron Maiden t-shirt, I saw them live in 1983” work well.
  • Greeting students allows you to possibly identify the potentially troublesome kids. They don't always make themselves clear, but sometimes they can (like if they're wearing an Iron Maiden t-shirt). Learn their name and engage in casual conversation to help quell any potential issues.
Congratulations! You are now off to starting an excellent class period.

Q. What do you do to establish yourself as the leader of the class before the bell rings?


  1. An interesting post. :) I agree with most of what you have to say. I do wonder about stereotyping students in Iron Maiden T shirts as potentially troublesome. On the one hand, the student did choose to wear the shirt, so you're making a judgment based on a student choice, rather than a non-choice attribute (like height, weight, race, gender, etc.). But on the other hand, which T shirt the student chooses to wear isn't much data on which to base a judgment.

  2. Thanks for the response, Jon. As an Iron Maiden fan and former teenage metal head, I can definitely identify with the student who was the butt of my sarcasm. While I wore similarly hilarious t-shirts as a 15 year old, I never gave subs trouble. Years ago I saw a study that linked metal fans to people with gentle, easy-going, and peaceful personalities. A similar article can be found here:

    My only point with this comment (other than a cheap laugh, hilarious t-shirt pic, and a reference to one of my guilty pleasure bands) was to state that as a sub, we must be on our toes. Acknowledge your students as they walk in, and if one sticks out in your mind, learn their name so you can use it later if need be. First impressions are cheap, but when you are with student for less than 50 minutes, its often all you have.