Where are you when the bell rings, and the students enter your classroom? A lot of teachers stand by the door, and welcome the kids in with a smile and a maybe a high five. This is awesome.
If you’re doing this, please keep doing it. This is a great way to start the class. I know that sometimes, it’s not possible to be at the door when the kids come in, because you don’t have everything ready for the lesson, or you are making copies or setting up the class. If you can, however, do your best to welcome the students into your room.
In this strategy, however, I’m encouraging you to inject some extra energy and positivity to this practice, which will bring some extra happiness to your day as well as into the lives of your kids.
Every morning, I stand at the top of the stairs leading into the school building from the quad. The bell rings at 7:52 a.m., and the kids wait impatiently behind the yellow line for the bell to ring, so they can get to class. As assistant principal, I am there to supervise the students before school.
Finally, the bell rings, and students rush up the stairs. After my obligatory, “Slow down,” I begin.
“Welcome to school guys. Thank you for coming. I am so glad that you came today. It’s going to be a great day. It’s going to be the best day ever! I was having a bad day until you guys showed up. Now I am excited! You are going to learn so much today. You are going to go home smarter than you came in today. You’re going to make new friends. You’re going to be blown away by what your teachers have prepared for you. They have been working hard to create lessons that will make you say “WOW!” Thank you for showing up. You didn’t have to come. You could have made up some excuse to say home, but you didn’t. You came to school, and I am so happy. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Every day I say something different, basically whatever pops into my mind as they are filing into the building, but for the most part, the message is the same. Most students don’t acknowledge my greetings, but every now and then, a student will say, “You’re welcome, Mr. Rangel.”
I know it looks like I’m just giving the students an extra enthusiastic welcome to the school day, but I’m actually doing much more. I’m injecting gratitude and positive expectations into their young brains. I’m influencing their mindset about school.
Instead of starting off their day with the usual, “Make sure you stay in line. Follow the rules. Make good choices. Turn in your homework, etc.,” I am deliberately starting off their day with something good. You never know what kind of morning these kids have had. Maybe they’re coming from a home where there is nothing good going on. Maybe one of those students coming past me is thinking about hurting herself. I have the unique opportunity to bring some light into their worlds as they walk into my school, and that brings me joy. It starts my day off with some good vibes, and I love it.
As a classroom teacher, you have an even greater opportunity. You don’t have 500 kids rushing past you like I do. My influence is diluted among all the kids coming into the building. You, however, have a smaller number of students coming in to your classroom, and you know all their names.
As they come in to your classroom, give them more than just a high five. Give them some gratitude and something to look forward to.
“Hi Mark, thank you for coming today. Today is going to be great day!”
As you’ll read over and over in my upcoming book, gratitude is such an important element in the happiness equation. By making an effort to inject a dose of gratitude into the lives of your students as they come into your class, you will see the levels of happiness grow not only in their lives, but in yours as well.
Give it a try. It will seem strange at first, but let it become part of your daily routine. It has been a great addition to my daily routine, and when I can’t be there in the morning, I inevitably hear it from one of the kids. “Where were you this morning, Mr. Rangel?” They come to expect it, and that makes me happy.
This is one of the strategies that will be included in my upcoming book, Teach Happier – 20 Strategies to Help Teachers Love What They Do Even More!
Sign up to be notified when the book is available at TeachHappier.com.
Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!