The Power of Saying Hello

Every morning, in my new job as assistant head of the lower school, I have the opportunity to shake hands with each boy in either grades K-2 or grades 3-5 depending on which door that they enter. It feels like such a privilege to be able to greet students at the start of their school day. I know that this promotes not only good manners, but trust.

Several jobs ago, I attended a workshop led by Boys Town. This organization has roots in a small town in Nebraska. It specializes in helping boys learn and grow despite obstacles that they may encounter. My workshop was not only stirring but instructional. One of the main ideas that stayed with me was the power of saying hello.

According to the Boys Town model, boys need to feel that they matter through their connection to others, and if they are lacking this connection at home or in their community, school is where they are able to feel a part of something beyond themselves. No problem is insurmountable when connected to a caring community.

I recently came upon an article on Twitter titled, “The Value of Just Saying Hello,” and it reminded me of the Boys Town ideals. The author, Kevin Fittinghoff, states that the greeting is like “sandpaper, breaking through the too-smooth finish and giving us something to hold on to.” I love the idea that each boy I greet at the doorway of school is now “roughed up” and better able to absorb new possibilities that the day may present to him.

See the link below to this interesting article.

Our teachers also greet the boys at the door to their classroom. I stood watching the other day while Mrs. Radle welcomed her boys to 2C. Each boy not only received a handshake, but was asked how they were doing and how their evening had been. The boys patiently waited in line in the hallway while their teacher also prompted them to ask her how her evening had been. This was repeated fifteen times, with each boys feeling singled out, connected, and “roughed up.” While visiting Mr. Bowie’s class this morning, he remarked that his boys are “awesome” with their morning handshakes. The ritual “provides life-long lessons and skills.”

I hope that my communication with you each week encourages “talking points” to inspire weekend conversation with your son or sons. Here are some “talking points” for this weekend.

  • What was the message from this week’s Morning Meeting with Dr. Webster or Mr. Smyth? Did you enjoy the story? What does compassion mean to you?
  • If you are in Kindergarten- Did you like the apples that you tasted? How do you make applesauce? Where are you going with your class next week? Did you see your big buddies this week ?
  • If you are in Pre-First- Why is there a large monster face on your classroom door?
  • If you are in First Grade- Who are Even Steven and Odd Todd? What projects are you doing based on Frog and Toad? Did you see your big buddies this week?
  • If you are in Second Grade- How are you tying your study of geography in with creative use of the iPad? What are you learning about air ecology and air pollution in science class? Why did you make helixes in science?
  • If you are in Third Grade- Are you looking forward to the trip to a National Historic Site next week and earning your first Junior Ranger badge?
  • If you are in Fourth Grade- What geography songs are you learning this week from Mr. Merrick? Does he have a favorite part of the world to sing about?
  • If you are in Fifth Grade- Did you enjoy the talk by Sandy London on Monday? What inspired him to start writing books? Where does he get his ideas?

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