Meet 'em at the Threshold

Chris Hagedorn

by Chris Hagedorn

For Middle Level

A threshhold is a place or point of entering or beginning.

Being at the threshold of your classroom between periods can be one of the most beneficial moves you make each day.

An initial exchange at the doorway—a quick "Good afternoon, Val"; "Good afternoon, Mr. Hagedorn" accompanied by eye contact and perhaps a nod, handshake, or fist-bump—connects teacher and student and creates a safe, friendly, humane context for the period.

While you greet each other you can:

  • "Read" the mood and emotions of each student and help them prepare for class
  • Direct students to information they need to get started
  • Quickly check in with a student to acknowledge something that happened recently, welcome him back from absence, and/or remind her of an expectation
  • Take attendance, which saves a little time for teaching and learning
  • Keep track of who is arriving in plenty of time and who is cutting it close

While you're at the threshold you can:

  • Keep an eye on both your classroom and the hallway
  • Greet passing students who are not on their way
    into your class
  • Encourage students to hurry along to their next class
    as the passing period winds down
  • Quickly confer with your colleagues who are also standing at their thresholds
  • Briefly socialize with colleagues and/or students

Other benefits of standing at the threshold:

  • Students perceive you as prepared, calm, confident, and caring
  • Bullying and other anti-social behavior can be detected and stopped
  • The hallway becomes safer and quieter, and tardiness diminishes.

Greet each student at your classroom's threshold and set the stage for a great hour of learning! Let us know how it goes.

Greetings photo

After the bell rings, try out a few of these greetings with your class.

Chris Hagedorn is the co-author of Classroom Discipline: Guiding Adolescents to Responsible Independence

Posted September 2013

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