Strategy: Greeting Students at the Door

Check-Up Menu > Greeting Students at the Door

Building relationships with students and making them feel like welcome members of the class are essential to creating a positive classroom climate. Greeting students at the door using noncontingent attention is one method for connecting with students at the beginning of the school day or class period.
The purpose of greeting students at the door is to welcome each student individually and to set a positive tone for the beginning of each school day. It also gives you advance warning if a student is having a bad morning and is in need of extra support.
How Greeting Students at the Door Connects to CARES
Greeting students at the door daily shows that you care about them and that you are consistently going to welcome them into your classroom no matter what has happened in the past. It shows consistency and commitment. This strategy helps you build and deepen authentic relationships with your students and it allows you to effectively communicate that you are happy to have your students enter your classroom each day. Greetings should show sensitivity to students’ cultures. Some students may prefer a non-contact greeting such as an “air five,” while a hug, secret handshake, or high five might be appropriate and welcomed by other students.
Some key elements to using greetings with noncontingent attention:
1) It is important to be genuine and sincere in your greetings with students. They need to feel that you are really interested in them.
2) It is also important to allow students choices of greetings that make them most comfortable and feel welcomed. Visuals assist students to know the available choices and make them quickly.
3) Teach and practice the greetings in the same manner as you would teach any other important classroom routine.
4) Monitor students’ moods and responses as they enter the classroom. Check in with any students who seem down and spend some time providing extra attention and/or problem-solving.

How To

How To Greet Students at the Door
There are many different ways students may enjoy being welcomed into the classroom. Creating your own menu of acceptable classroom greetings is a way to personalize your students’ classroom experience. Not all of your students will feel welcomed by a simple “hello” and will respond better to individualized choices.
Example Videos:

Video Prompts: 

  • This teacher greets every student as they come in the door in the morning.
  • Notice how the teacher states each student’s name.
  • Notice that students choose how they want to be greeted by receiving a hug or high five. This allows all the students to feel comfortable with the greeting.
  • What did you like about how this teacher greeted each student as they arrived?
  • How might you go about greeting each student?
  • What do you think the benefits are to greeting students every day?
Teacher Interview

Video Prompts: 

  • This teacher discusses the struggle between getting through academic work and building relationships.
  • She reflects on how building relationships can actually save time later on.
  • How important is relationship building to you when working with your students?
  • What are some ideas for what you can do in your classroom to build positive relationships with even the students who are hardest to reach?

Strategy Tool

Greeting Students at the Door - Strategy Tool
Use the Classroom Greetings strategy tool to help you identify how to best use noncontingent attention with your students at the beginning of each school day.


Greeting Students at the Door - Reflection
Take a moment to make sure your plan is going to work.

Goal Setting

Greeting Students at the Door - Goal Setting
Set a goal for greeting students at the door with noncontingent attention.

References to Other Relevant Resources:

Allday, R. A., & Pakurar, K. (2007). Effects of teacher greetings on student on-task behavior. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 40(2), 317-320.

Patterson, S. T. (2009). The effects of teacher-student small talk on out-of-seat behavior. Education and Treatment of Children, 32(1), 167-174.


Concentration Areas: Connection to the Curriculum; Authentic Relationships; Reflective Thinking About Cultural, Racial/Ethnic, and Class Differences; Effective Communication; Sensitivity to Students’ Culture

What is CARES?

CARES is an acronym for the five domains that research has found to be successful in engaging students of culturally diverse backgrounds at school. Each letter refers to a significant element of interaction within the classroom. Applying all five domains of CARES works because it promotes a better understanding of students and ourselves by using strategies that deepen those relationships every day.

There is no single element that works independently of the others. All five CARES domains, together with the Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate elements, support one another and need to be applied in the classroom to be successful.

Why is it important?

Research has shown that each of the five CARES domains has a significant impact on students and their behavior when used regularly and over time. Students who are known and understood by their teachers as individuals in the classroom report deeper connections academically and to their school. When teachers understand their own cultural heritage, they better understand the differences between themselves and their students and report higher levels of mutual respect with students. This also helps teachers to recognize the similarities they share with their students as well as recognize ways in which they are different. Students are more connected and engaged in classrooms where teachers welcome exploration; invite, acknowledge, and celebrate cultural differences; make relevant connections to the curriculum; listen attentively to understand how each student is approaching the concepts; and use humor and other effective communication tools.

Greeting Students at the Door

CARES Overview

Using Journals to Build Relationships

Identifying Reinforcers for the Classroom

Using Social and Emotional Coaching

Using Behavior-specific Praise

Using Active Supervision

Using Group Contingencies

Using Precorrection

Teaching Behavior Expectations

Providing Academic Feedback

Increasing Opportunities to Respond

Developing and Using Clear Academic Objectives

Posting and Using a Schedule

Coaching Process – Menu of Options

Coaching Process – Providing Feedback

Coaching Process – Introduction and Overview

Observation Practice 4

Observation Practice 3

Observation Practice 2

Observation Practice 1

Using an Attention Signal

Teaching Classroom Routines

Physical Classroom Structure

Values Card Sort – Example

Card Sort Introduction

Coaching – Interview Guide

Opening the Meeting

Defining and Teaching Classroom Rules

Mrs. James

Miss Faber

Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate

Concentration Areas: Smooth Transitions, Pacing of Instruction, Student Engagement, Clear Expectations, Use of Praise, Use of Reprimands, Level of Disruptive Behavior

What is Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate?

Positive Behavior Supports refers to the proactive ways that teachers work with their students, as well as the ways that teachers respond to challenging situations with students. The focus is on recognizing and affirming student strengths rather than punishing them or taking something away from them. A positive approach to the classroom will promote a classroom climate that is welcoming to all students and is a place where students want to engage with the teacher, each other, and the curriculum. All individuals, students and teachers, and the interactions between and amongst all classroom members play a role in the climate.

There is no single element that works independently of the others. All Positive Behavior Supports & Classroom Climate elements, together with the CARES domains, support one another and need to be applied to the classroom to be successful.

Why is it important?

In a classroom climate that is positive and welcoming to all members, the classroom becomes a safe place where culture and diversity can be openly discussed. A supportive climate is one that promotes student engagement and success. Students feel supported and motivated to be an active member of the classroom community. The teacher taking a positive and proactive approach creates a climate of care and respect and promotes desired student behaviors. This classroom is also a place that provides consistency to students, which is especially important for students who may experience stress and uncertainty outside of the school building. Teachers who have positive and proactive classrooms report fewer disruptive behaviors from their students, an increase in student achievement, and better overall perceptions of school climate.

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