I don’t know why, but I really avoided giving each student a handshake at the beginning of class for a little while. I guess I felt that it was not completely necessary as long as I was positive in class. However, there was always something in me that said I needed to shake their hand and I couldn’t get rid of the picture of Harry Wong in his book The First Days of School with his little vest and his hand extended out with gusto.
Well, for the last week I really made an effort to shake the students hands as they enter. Some days I decided not to do it to see what would happen. The results? I really noticed a difference when I shook their hand. The class seemed to respond so much better. Also, I felt closer to class and that helped to make the environment more relaxed, but still have a focused feeling.
I never knew that it would make such a difference, but I guess when you think about it does make sense. I need to keep doing this! I think that connecting with each of my students on a personal level just before class can more of a difference than I thought. Who knows, perhaps that is the only connection they will have all day.