Here’s a top tip from the Edutopia website. A 2018 study showed that positive greetings at the door increased academic engagement by 20 percentage points, and decreased disruptive behaviour by 9 percentage points—adding as much as “an additional hour of engagement over the course of a five-hour instructional day,” the researchers said. As students enter the room, take a few minutes to personally greet each of them (at eye level if you can) at the beginning of the day, or the beginning of each class in secondary – so as to increase their feelings of belonging and build the teacher-child relationship.
When students are working at home, there’s no door to stand in, of course, but you can create a short daily video to say hello, or use a tool like Zoom—which has a virtual waiting room feature—to queue learners up and then welcome them to class one by one. Alternately, you can adapt the 5x5 strategy—in which a teacher spends 25 minutes talking to five students for five minutes each—using the phone or video meetings via Zoom, Teams or Google Meet.
Once students are in your classroom, taking a few more minutes for non-academic chat involving all students can build a vibrant community, while giving you a window into whether each student is emotionally prepared for academic work. Students might discuss things like a question of the day—What’s your favourite pizza? or If you could have a superpower, what would you pick?—before describing how they feel by naming their personal roses and thorns, or by dropping a simple thumbs up, sideways thumb, or thumbs down into your chat feature.