One of the most important ways to build community in the classroom is to make each student feel wanted every single day. Every morning should start with a smile. This is one of the simplest things to do as a teacher, yet it is sometimes the hardest to do consistently.
I have had so many mornings when I am running around before school starts trying to finish the five million things I still need to do. Copies. Arranging shelves. Desperately gulping down coffee. It is so easy to let the overwhelmed feelings affect your morning. You have to remember your students. They do not know about the things you have to do. They do not need to know. What goes on behind the scenes should not affect them.
So how do you present an outer sense of calm even when stressed? Take a few minutes right before letting students in and destress. Meditate. Read an inspirational message or prayer. I like to write a personal teaching goal for myself on a sticky note. Drink something. Breathe. If you still feel stressed, bring out your acting skills! If I am really stressed I will go into the closet, say "SCENE" and come out with a big smile ready for my opening number.
Then go to the door and open it. Have a big smile and greet each student by name. If you have younger students, you might want to sit down to be at eye level. Many teachers shake every student's hand. Some hug. One teacher I know gives each student a choice: "Handshake, Hug, or Hi-Five!". It doesn't matter which way you choose as long as you personally greet each child. "Good morning!" Just remember to smile.
Stephanie Stephens and Holly Fitzharris are both Montessori educators- collectively with over 30 years of experience in education.