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The ‘Meet and Greet’: Passive and Active

In my last blog post, I explored a potential routine for setting the tone from the outset of a lesson through a ‘Strong Start’. The whole post can be found here and below is our current work on supporting our whole school Entry and Exit routines.

This is led principally by the ‘Entry‘ section above and the ‘Meet and Greet‘ as students enter the classroom. It can sometimes be assumed that the ‘Meet and Greet’ is clear and obvious for all and that there is an implied understanding of its purpose and how to execute it effectively without the need for any explicit staff training. ‘It is just standing at the door being a presence.‘ However, I think there is a clear distinction between a passive and active ‘Meet and Greet’ and that we need to be careful in assuming that all staff know how to effectively deliver this.

A passive ‘Meet and Greet’ may involve any of the following:

  • Staff not speaking to the students as they enter.
  • Where staff may be talking, often this is as a monotone or unenthusiastically and using negative or heavily instructional language – ‘hurry up’, ‘in you go’, ‘just get the books out’, ‘just sit down’, ‘sit down, be quiet’.
  • Staff ‘slouching’ or leaning against the wall not engaging with students and standing there to ‘tick’ a whole school routine box.
  • Staff moving around constantly from the door, to the classroom, to the corridor, to another classroom which limits consistency and could aid disruption and an effective flow to the lesson. Not actually being on the door.
  • Staff being stoic in their expression and not ‘smiling’ or looking happy in greeting their students. If we are not enthusiastic about our classroom, teaching or the topic, how do we expect students to be?
  • Or further, staff holding grudges from previous lessons and using the ‘Meet and Greet’ to air these with their students in a negative tone.

An active ‘Meet and Greet’ may involve any of the following:

  • Staff being deliberately positive, welcoming, enthusiastic and upbeat in greeting their students. ‘Good morning, how are you today?’
  • Staff modelling professional and courteous language and expecting students to return this as they are trained in the school routines.
  • Staff standing purposefully at the threshold to the classroom with one foot in and one foot out actively checking the surrounding environment. Being seen looking.
  • Within the positivity, staff weaving in reminders of the classroom routines, expected behaviours that result in success and any instructions for what students may need to do from the outset to maximise time.
  • Staff narrating the positive as they enter the classroom. This may be around arrival time or through students who have begun the retrieval or Do Now activity promptly.
  • Staff enforcing their high expectations from the outset around school rules and routines.

What does an active ‘Meet and Greet’ support?

By conducting an active ‘Meet and Greet’, staff can explicitly model professional, kind and welcoming behaviour to their students. Research has suggested that students’ classroom behaviour can be improved if teachers greet their students at the door. This ensures staff set the correct tone for their lesson to support a strong, purposeful and positive start and also supports staff presence from the outset of the lesson as the authority figure. Students are walking into *your* space.

The ‘Meet and Greet’ ensures staff can build positive relationships with their students as these initial interactions and first impressions may dictate, for some pupils, whether they begin the lesson in a positive mindset and whether this continues to influence the rest of the lesson. These relationships may be built in the small and subtle interactions on the door around particular shared interests and topics based upon how well the teacher knows their individual students. This might be around a school achievement and praising students for this or something external that the student has an active interest in. Through this, it ensures a positive and respectful beginning to the lesson as the students’ first interaction with their teacher in the lesson isn’t the staff member raising their voice or shouting for silence or for students to begin their work but is a considered, warm and individual greeting. This also shows that our classrooms are safe environments and that staff are approachable and supportive. First impressions always matter.

Through ‘running the room’ in the lens of a ‘Meet and Greet’, this ensures a strong sense of collective belonging to the class group and that students enter an environment that is positive, welcoming and safe. If the routine is set that as students enter, they complete a Do Now in silence for example, the atmosphere is calm and, invariably, means that as other students enter they will adopt this approach and fall within the parameters of the classroom learning state. Therefore, the start of the lesson is calm and considered.

A brilliant training video for this which includes a modelled examples and links heavily to our current work can be found here.

Doug Lemov writes more about the importance of threshold here.

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