Every morning at 8:10 a.m., my teammates and I line up in two parallel lines outside the front of Condon Elementary School to greet students and their families as they come into the building. We call this part of the day “morning greeting.” Students who walk or get a ride to school start trickling in around 8:00 a.m., walking with their parents and any of their siblings that also attend the Condon. The soundtrack of the morning is a mix of friendly choruses: good-mornings, have-a-good-days, and welcome-to-schools.
In a daze the first bus arrives at 8:15 a.m. as students come pouring through our lines. In an organized, well-mannered way, students return our high fives as we begin to sing, chant, clap, and dance to inspire and motivate students towards another day of learning.
When I first realized all that morning greeting was going to entail—20 minutes of me being highly energetic before 9:00 in the morning—I was skeptical. It’s going to be a long year. I can make this work, but does it really make a difference?
Within my first weeks I was convinced that it did. I remember the first time I saw that morning greeting was an effective way to get students to school on time. Just like every other morning before it, my team and I stood outside the school and greeted hundreds of students and their families as they arrived.
Alyssa* rolled off the bus ready to go through the motions for another day, noticeably not thrilled about being at school. She had students flanking her on all sides, but, as she approached my teammates and me, I noticed she stepped to the side and held out her hand to not just get high fives from us but to give us high fives. A slight enthusiasm now peeked through her “I’m too cool for school” demeanor.
Later that morning I touched base with Alyssa* as she was getting her math binder from her backpack. Alyssa struggles with attendance, as she often misses the bus and does not have another way to get to school. I told her that it was good to have her in school that day and that we missed her the day before when she wasn’t there. I also mentioned that I noticed how much she seemed to enjoy morning greeting.
She glanced around to see if any of her friends were near. Seeing the coast was clear, she gave me a little smile, a slight nod, and took her binder back to her seat.
*Name changed to protect student privacy
In 1994, Congress designated the Martin Luther King Jr. Federal Holiday as a national day of service and charged the...Read more