Saturday, August 20, 2016

How I Changed My Classroom Culture Through High-Fives

I followed TMC15 virtually and read about Glenn Waddell's session on giving his students high fives every day for a year.  So I decided to take on the challenge this past school year.  I am proud to say that I was successful.  I didn't miss a single day.  This was a big change for me.  I never made it into the hallway as often as I would have liked before.  Most of the time, I was doing a quick clean-up of my room between classes.  This included putting away supplies from one class and taking out the supplies needed for the next class.  This was actually the biggest hurdle that I had to overcome to be able to complete the challenge successfully.

I came up with a system where I used masking tape to split up a table by class and set out all the supplies for the day.  I trained my students to pick up and put back their own supplies from this table at the start and end of class each day.  The only other minor thing that I had to give up was conversations with students after class (some didn't mind standing in the hall next to me, but others would rather visit me before/after school than do that).

It definitely worked.  I will be doing high fives again this year.  The teachers around me commented that they thought it helped with building rapport with my students.  I liked the added benefit oh noticing when kids avoided giving me a high five.  This was a clue to let me know that something was wrong.  Sometimes it had nothing to do with me and the issue resolved itself in one day.  When a student skipped my high five two days in a row, I knew that I needed to arrange a chat.  Most often they were upset by a decision that I made (how much credit to award a late assignment or assigning a detention for being late to class).

Some students actually enjoyed the high fives so much that they would give me a high five when they passed my room heading to another class.  The funniest moment was probably when the final exam proctor told me that the class insisted that I come give them all a high five before they started their exams.  I felt a little like a basketball star jogging down a tunnel of students giving high fives on both sides.

What a great idea that made such a difference in my relationships with students.  Here's to another year of high fives!


  1. Love it! I can't say I greeted with high fives every day last year ... but I did very often. It made a huge difference in the climate in the room!

    1. Such an easy but worthwhile thing to do :)

  2. Thank you Jennifer for the hat tip. You did all the work though. You are amazing.