Why Greet?

Erin Klug

by Erin Klug

For Middle Level

"I always felt really welcomed at school. To this day, being told "Good morning" is still important to me. "It feels good to have somebody say at the start of your day, 'Hey, I'm glad to see you. How great it is that we are together!' It always made me happy."

"It feels good to have somebody say at the start of your day, 'Hey, I'm glad to see you. How great it is that we are together!' It always made me happy."

These are words from a recent interview with one of my former students, Eden. I asked her to tell me about her experiences with our morning gatherings at school—specifically, which of the skills she still relies on as a young adult. As Eden spoke, I felt goose bumps. She was so genuine about her answer and her need to be acknowledged!

In my consulting work, many teachers ask about the importance of the Circle of Power and Respect (CPR). Eden's words beautifully illustrate one reason for CPR: we all need to have significant relationships with those around us, in and out of school.

Sometimes teachers tell me that students don't like the greeting component-they think it's babyish. I encourage them to think about the particular greeting formats they use and about the extent to which they actively seek endorsement from students for the greeting component.

Here are some things to consider:

  1. Switch it up. It's easy to fall into a rut and have students do, say, the basic Around the Circle Greeting every day. Overused, any greeting or activity becomes monotonous and flat. On the Educator Help pages, you'll find new ways to freshen up greetings with your students. 
  2. Keep it simple. On the other hand, if students feel that a greeting is too silly, maybe you need to use a more basic one. After all, amusing as it is, you don't greet someone day after day with a silly voice or a secret handshake! Students need opportunities to greet simply, by turning to the person on their left and right in the circle and saying "Hello," as well as in special ways. We hope that greeting will become routine: that students will habitually feel the need to acknowledge those around them and will be acknowledged in return.
  3. Connect the greeting to life outside the circle. I ask students to think about the need to belong and be acknowledged, and the role of practice in developing habits. If I were in a classroom today, I'd share Eden's comments with students. But to stay true to my word, I also reinforce students when I see greetings happen outside of the circle, and I share stories of how I use greetings in my daily life (the cashier at the grocery store, my family, the bus driver, etc.). This helps them see that greeting is not always a planned event that takes place only in CPR.

Why is greeting important to you and your students? How do you keep it interesting?

Erin Klug taught intermediate and middle grades in Minneapolis for more than a decade before taking a position as Professional Development Specialist and Consultant for The Origins Program.

Posted March 2014

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