One Simple Tip to Change the Tone of Your Classroom

August 2, 2023

Heidi Parker

Do you want to know the quickest way to change the tone in your classroom? I didn’t learn it in my countless hours of graduate school nor did I develop this in student teaching. All the education books I have read and professional development sessions I attended didn’t provide this lesson either. 

Here it is: Stand at the entryway to your classroom and greet your students by name. And, ready for this zinger…require them to greet you back. If they fail to do so, stop the greeting line and politely ask them to redo the greeting. Simple and free, but you will notice the daily difference this makes. Why?



The moments at the door are priceless. At that entryway between the outside madness of middle school and the classroom, you can connect with countless students. In my own experiences, my students look for me to be there, and if I am interrupted by an office phone call or some other matter, they are disappointed. Students step in to take over the greeting if I’m not right at the door when the bell rings! 

Last year I had the quietest student - almost a selective mute. The only conversation I had with him all year happened at the door. 

“Good morning, Omar.”


“I like your Death Valley T-shirt. Have you been there?”


“Would you like to go someday?”

“Yes. Is it a desert?”


“Is it hot there?


“Then I would like to see that someday.”

“I hope you get to go then. I’ve been, and it’s amazing.”

“Someday I’ll go with my family.”

Door conversations are the best.

For another great way to connect with your students, check out Ignite Understanding resource "Middle School Bulletin Board: Back to School Student Interview.