Positive Greetings at the Door

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Positive Greetings at the Door (PGD) is a three-step intentional practice to increase student academic engagement and prevent student misbehavior.

1.  Teacher greets each student individually with a positive verbal or nonverbal greeting as they enter the learning environment to create a sense of connection and belonging.

2.  Teacher makes a preplanned, pre-corrective statement to remind the entire class of student behavior or engagement expectations.

3.  Teacher offers behavior-specific praise or makes a pre-corrective statement to specific students who have struggled with behavior or engagement in the past.

The goals of PGD are to 1) maximize instructional time by getting students learning as quickly as possible and limiting off-task behaviors and 2) foster connection and social belonging in students.

The Impact of PGD

A study of PGD in middle schools indicated that PGD done correctly increases student engagement time and reduces disruptive behaviors (Cook et al., 2018). In this study, students gained 12 minutes of on-task instructional time per instructional hour, resulting in an hour gained of instructional time over the course of 5 hours.

Ways to measure the impact of PGD

*  Tally verbal and nonverbal on-task and off-task behaviors at predetermined intervals.

*  Do a pre and posttest review of discipline referrals.

*  Do a pre and post tally of teacher’s use of reactive strategies.

*  Do a pre and post tally of student truancy and/or tardy arrival. 

Why PGD works

Teachers find the practice to be “feasible, reasonable, and acceptable.”

 Implementing PGD requires minimal training and little expense.

PGD creates a positive classroom climate and fosters a sense of “connection and belonging” in students.  There is research demonstrating that students who have a sense of “social belonging” are more motivated to achieve academically in the classroom.

 Challenges to Implementation

*  Without appropriate training, teachers can counter the positive impact of PGD by acting as a “hall monitor” issuing reactive behavior corrections instead of positive, pre-corrective greetings.

*  Teachers can exacerbate inequities by offering students greetings based on stereotypes (i.e. making comments focused on female students’ appearance/hair/dress or focused on stereotypical activities or interests for students of color)

*  Students do not experience the interaction as positive, sincere and authentic.

*  The precorrective statements serve primarily as a reminder of a student’s previous failings and therefore, is not experienced as “positive” by the students.

Note on Research

Teachers included in PGD research have regularly been teachers whose students had low levels of academic engagement. The significant gains demonstrated in PGD research might reflect the impact of this intervention on those classes with the most gains to be had.  Additional research is needed to determine if teachers with high levels of academic engagement experience additional gains with PGD.

Researchers have not examined how teacher implicit bias or cultural proficiency might impact a teacher’s ability to implement PGD effectively.

Reflections to Consider

Those implementing PGD might reflect on the following questions individually or collaboratively:

*  A common unconscious bias held in the United States is that students of color require behavior management.  You may want to check yourself to mitigate the impact of unconscious bias on your practice. Ask yourself, is it possible that my pre-corrective statements might come across as if I am a “hall monitor”?  How can I be sure I am not reinforcing stereotypes when I greet students at the door? Do I have a colleague who can observe me and provide feedback?

*  What makes my greetings of students feel authentic to me?

*  How can I know the impact PGD might be having on my students?  What do my tallies indicate? Do I have a colleague who can observe my students after they enter the room, perhaps before and after I implement PGD?



Allday, R. A., & Pakurar, K. (2007). Effects of teacher greetings on student on-task behavior. Journal of applied behavior analysis, 40(2), 317–320. doi:10.1901/jaba.2007.86-06

Allday, R. A., Bush, M. , Ticknor, N. and Walker, L. (2011). Using Teacher Greetings to Increase Speed to Task Engagement. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 44: 393-396. doi:10.1901/jaba.2011.44-393

Cook, C. R., Fiat, A., Larson, M., Daikos, C., Slemrod, T., Holland, E. A.,  Renshaw, T. (2018). Positive Greetings at the Door: Evaluation of a Low-Cost, High-Yield Proactive Classroom Management Strategy. Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions, 20(3), 149-159. https://doi.org/10.1177/1098300717753831.

Terada, Youki. (September 11, 2018). Welcoming Students With a Smile. Edutopia, https://www.edutopia.org/article/welcoming-students-smile.

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