Teaching can be overwhelming. There is so much pulling on our time with the students. We have standards, scope and sequences, and directives. We have parents, principals, and school boards. So many demands are put on our time with our students. But what really is the most important part of our school day? What should we focus our time on? What should happen each and every day?
Do you know what the MOST important part of the school day is? Of course it's not lunch, although we want our students fed. And it's not recess, even though studies show how important breaks are to our elementary students. So just what is the most important time in a student's school day?
Of course reading time is the MOST important. Right? Teaching students to read is the most important thing we teachers do. Oh, wait...maybe...reading to our students. Studies show that reading to students daily is linked to learning. Or is it the math block? Hummmm.... maybe it's the time we teach problem solving?
Nope. I am proposing that none of those are the VERY MOST important time of the day.
There is a time that is more basic that even reading to your students. More essential that teaching them to read and more necessary than teaching math or problem solving.
Most Important Time in a Teacher's Day
The VERY MOST important time in the school day is the first 5 minutes with your students and the last 5 minutes with your students. Your greeting and your farewell are the very most essential time with your students.
What!? No way!
Greetings and farewells are crucial! These are, in fact, the foundation on which all the rest of your students' learning will take place. Kids need to know that you care for them. That you are invested in their lives. If students believe that you love them and care for them, they will buy in to what you are selling: the reading, the math, and the science. Greetings and Farewells are that time of the day that you get to communicate to your students how much you really care for them.
This is the time that you communicate to your students that you are happy to see them. That you want them in your classroom. That you want to see them. That you can't wait to start the day and are looking forward to teaching them.
You can't communicate these sentiments sitting behind your desk while students wander in.
I never let anyone besides me open my classroom door. I also never leave the door open and let the students trickle in. I open the door purposely and greet each of my students as they enter my classroom. My kiddos know that they need to greet me when they come in the door. A high five, a smile, a hug, and a kind word start our day off on the right foot. I have become the master of the sideways hug!
This is the beginning. This is the beginning of your relationship with your students.
This is the time to tell your students that no matter what happened during the day, you still will be there to care for them. That tomorrow is another day. A new day. That reading and math aside, you are an adult that cares what happens to each and every one of your students. You are communicating that you care for their safety and well-being. You care that they make it home safe and secure and that you are looking forward to tomorrow.
During Farewell time, I make sure every student gives me a high five or a sideways hug before they leave. I make sure that students look me in the eyes and say good-bye. I want them to know that I can't wait to see them tomorrow.
I often have students from previous years come back over and give me a proper farewell. Other students from other classes also like to come over. Some students hunger and long for someone, even a teacher, to love on them.
Okay. Greetings and Farewells. Important sure, but are they really the MOST important time in a teacher's day?
Try it out. See for yourself how it changes the atmosphere in your classroom.
It's really a small thing when you think about it. 10 minutes tops. A few minutes to create such a big impact. What do you have to lose? A few minutes at your desk? Will those few minutes at your desk make an impact in your class positivity?
I can't tell you how many notes I get from my students about greeting them. Here is one I saved.
I love how she mentioned saying 'it" back. This is when I have my students say, "Good Morning," to me.
Don't let these 5 minutes at the beginning and ending of the day slip by you. Make them eventful. Make them count. Make them a part of your classroom routine.