In the mornings, my children line up outside the classroom. I stand at the door and wait to greet each one of my students! They take turns picking one of the pictures on the mat. They touch the picture of how they would like me to greet them in the morning! It is such a wonderful way to start every morning! You learn so much from your students, just from the way they want to be greeted each morning! This little greeting is such a big deal to my students, they WILL NOT enter the classroom unless I greet them! If a student is late, whether it be 5 min. or an hour, I will have to stop instruction to go and greet that student! I will have parents trying to get their child to go on in, and the child will refuse! I love this Greeting Mat. Because of this little greeting mat I am able to greet each child in the morning at their comfort level and I know that I have, absolutely, every day, made a positive connection with each and every one of my students!
I started using The Greeting Mat about 10 years ago. I believe I got the idea from a Mailbox Magazine. I was teaching in an inclusion classroom at the time. I had a little fellow who had been emotionally abused by his father. The physical abuse his mother had endured was so tremendous that it caused her to have brain damage. Because of the amount of emotional abuse he had been through and witnessing all the physical abuse towards his mother, he was silent. He did not show any kind of expression. He did not converse with other students or staff. Occasionally, he would yell out and push a chair or knock something of a table when he would become frustrated. But that was the extent of his interaction with others. He had the biggest brown eyes you could imagine, they where hidden behind wired frame glasses that sat at the end of his nose. His lips never parted and the corners were always turned down. I will refer to him as Max. When I first started using The Greeting Mat, I had taped it down on the the floor right in front of the classroom door. The children would stand on the greeting they chose for the day. At the beginning of the year, Max would walk right over the mat as if I and the mat were not even there. I never would comment on his entrance, I would just calmly say, "Good Morning Max. I'm glad you are here today!" This is the way the two of us started our morning together for 5 months. Then, the end of January came and Max entered the room in such an unexpected way. With his head bowed down, he slid into the room with his back right up against the door jam, slowly at first and then quick make his escape, as if he was an actor in Mission Impossible. I had to giggle to myself. Although, he did not look at me, he had revealed a playful piece to his hidden personality! It was a great accomplishment, and the special ed. teacher and I celebrated togeteher in secret! This went on for about a month and a half. He'd sneak through the threshold and I"d say, "Good Morning Max. I'm glad you are here today!" In the beginning of April, Max made eye contact with me for the 1st time. It was only for a split second, but it happened. Not only once, but two or three mornings a week. He would start to slide by, back against the door and for a brief second, look up at me over the wired frame glasses. Although he did not talk, he began to interact with other students. At the end of April, Max greeted me with a hug! His arms did not wrap around me, his body was as stiff as a board, but he stood on the hug icon and welcomed my hug. That was the greatest moment of my teaching career. After Max entered the room, I stood for a moment with tears of happiness rolling down my cheeks. I decided right then, that I would always have The Greeting Mat at the entrance of my classroom and I would never go a day without giving my students the option of how they would like to greet me, one on one!
I hope that you will try out The Greeting Mat some day and it will bring you and your children the happiness it has brought me!
I have made a template for The Greeting Mat that is available at my TPT store! You can download it for free! I would love for you to share your stories with me if you already use The Greeting Mat! Come back and share any experiences you have with the mat after you start using it!