“Greet” Expectations: The Power of a Daily Warm Welcome to School
teacher greetings las vegas montessori-Innovation Academy Las Vegas elementary

Las Vegas Montessori | Student-Teacher Greetings Set the Tone

Since Innovation Academy first opened as a Montessori School in Las Vegas, the staff has maintained an important tradition. Each morning, the principal and all of the teachers welcome the students as they enter the gate. These student-teacher greetings set the tone for the day.

These are not passive nods, however. Instead, the Innovation Academy staff makes eye contact with individual children. Everyone exchanges greetings. Teachers and administrators even accept hugs as they are offered!

Is this simply about being positive and polite? Good manners are certainly an important part of a quality education. But the pleasant ritual also has deeper benefits …

The Best Sorts of Gatekeepers

Headmaster Maggie Bray explains that she feels very strongly about actively creating a solid start to each school day. In other words, the way a student feels about her or his day starts with the welcome. Teacher greetings are just one part of that.

Consider the saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” The idea is that a healthy and nutritious meal in the morning sets the day’s tone and pace. It gets your metabolism going and provides fuel for concentration.

The type of breakfast matters, too. A protein-rich breakfast, for instance, makes you feel more full. After that, you are less likely to snack or make unhealthy eating choices to curb hunger later in the day.

Similarly, an intentional greeting in the morning helps to further awaken a sleepy mind. It formally emphasizes the shift from one environment to another. And it lays a positive foundation upon which a child who feels welcomed, wanted, and safe can build the day. Furthermore, if the hello is a hearty one, it encourages even more positivity and enthusiasm!

The Transition Team

Headmaster Bray also had a goal for parents to see that their children would be cared for—and not just academically.

“I wanted a fluid partnership between the family in their home and the family environment of my school,” she explained.

Positioning the teachers at the front gate allows them to seamlessly receive information necessary for a smooth-running school day. For example, parents can easily share whether their child slept well or had nightmares. This lets the teacher know what to expect and how to approach each student.

In addition, teachers can discover who had a good breakfast versus who may still be hungry (and a little cranky). These are key variables that impact children—and therefore the classroom and learning process—throughout the day.

In addition to giving teachers crucial information that allows them to better react to behavior challenges, this practice does something more. The greeters at the gate serve as a warm, but vital bridge between worlds. Adults may call it a “continuum of care.” Kids, on the other hand, will simply see that they are moving from one set of trusted adults to another.

By offering a conscious hello, the teachers prompt students to recognize that they are stepping into somewhere separate from home. That is to say, the gate is not a threshold in theory, but a portal to a distinct learning environment.

Of course, we believe that children can (and should) be learning everywhere! Home is, in fact, where most learning happens. That said, emphasizing school as a unique space can free students to approach problems from a fresh perspective.  

The Evidence

We doubt that you need convincing of how beneficial a good teacher greeting can be. However, while we appreciate the evidence of observation, we also value focused study. Likewise, we’re sure you do, too.

A report in the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis backs up teacher greetings’ positive effects. Study authors following three middle school students with recognized “problem behaviors” concluded greetings can improve on-task behavior. To sum up, their report showed a 27 percent improvement in children who had difficulty staying on task at the day’s start.

The only change was going from no greetings at all to starting each morning with a personalized hello. Teachers addressed the students by name and added a positive statement. For example, they complimented an article of clothing or offered a simple, “I’m glad you’re here today.”

While a more definitive conclusion requires more data, there is obviously enough evidence to show greetings make a difference!

Send us a greeting of your own by CONTACTING INNOVATION ACADEMY online. We’d love to hear from you!

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Las Vegas Montessori | Student-Teacher Greetings Set the Tone