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Bright Ideas Blog Hop: Meeting Students at the Door for Classroom Management

One of the most popular books for classroom management over the past few decades was Wong and Wong's The First Days of School.  While this book was not as relevant for middle and high school classrooms, it still offered great advice that could easily be applied for the upper grades.  The one I've found to be most important, and most effective, for maintaining my classroom management is the Meet & Greet at the Classroom Door.

Tips and tricks for making the first day back to school one that helps set the stage for classroom management
Studying the 80s is always a favorite in my U.S. History classes!   Like Totally!
Meet & Greets have become a fun way to orient students to your classroom and each other on the first days of school, but the teacher/student meeting is far more important.  In this initial moment on the first day of school, students will often form the opinion of you that they may carry throughout the entire year.  Set things off on the right foot, and this meet and greet may help you set the standards for the classroom management you desire.

Each teacher should have their own personality in their Meet & Greet, but the vital ingredient for all is being at the classroom door as students are entering on that first day (and every day).  Here are a few suggestions that have worked well for me over the years:
  • Shake hands, high-five, or fist-bump every student as you introduce yourself on the first day.  Make this an everyday activity that will tell your students you are ready for their arrival, and they should be prepared for your class in return!
  • Compliment each student as they come to your door.  Address their outfit, their hair, or their cool new shoes.  If you are uncomfortable with personal attributes, call out their notebooks, the fact that they have pens or pencils ready to go, or the how they have arrived so quickly from their last class.  This can be a simple gesture, but will make a huge impact in building classroom confidence. 
  • Assign seats as students come to the door to avoid confusion or chaos.  Make it fun by using color codes, numbered sticks, or allow students to draw out their seat number for more random placement.
  • Distribute task cards, a Find Someone Who handout, or a Meet & Greet card to get students started in the first class activity.  This is vitally important.  It sets the standard for classroom time use and establishes your expectation that students will be on time and on task from bell to bell.
While the process is very important to establish yourself and your expectations, it can also be fun and entertaining to get your students engaged before the bell even rings!
  • Dress up in a fun outfit based on the subject you teach or what you'll be teaching.  I did this with each new unit, and my students loved getting a great laugh at my outrageous costumes and hair styles representing the eras in history.
  • Make entering the classroom an adventure.  Hang beads from the door (This always was the norm during my Counter-Culture Unit!), use decorative paper to create a black hole for students to climb through to enter, place numbers/equations or literary quotes on the floor for students to follow as they make their way to their seats, set up a hopscotch board to help students get some energy out as they enter, or distribute clues for a scavenger hunt and encourage student pairs to solve the clues.
  • Set the mood with music or video as students enter the room.  Play motivational videos or songs to rally up your students as you prepare to discuss the great year you have planned.  Convert your syllabus to a video presentation to make it less boring of a first day procedure!  Continue this trend by projecting your bellringers with music or video as the year goes on.
There are hundreds of ways you can Meet and Greet your students on that first day of school and in every day following.   The important thing is that you DO meet your students there.  Being in the hallway shows your students you are their protector, you are ready for class yourself, and you are excited about the lesson you are planning to teach.  Moreover, it shows students that you care about seeing them each day, and that you expect them to be there.  When they are not, make a point to share this sadness with them, and when you see changes of any kind - NOTICE!

In the end, the Meet & Greet is not a first day of school activity.  It is an every day of school activity, and one that will make your classroom a better, more inviting, more structured environment for learning.

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Happy Hopping!