An important part of our daily classroom Morning Meeting routine in Lower School is a greeting. This is where students and teachers greet one another by name accompanied by a hand greeting such as a handshake or high five. I have tried to be creative and come up with fun and unique hand greetings. Last year, I came across a video of an assistant college basketball coach, Stephen Garnett, who has a different handshake for each of his players. The handshakes were creative, intricate and entertaining. It is an impressive feat for this coach to remember all these moves. I was doubly delighted when I learned Mr. Garnett was a coach at my alma mater, Whitman College!
Assistant basketball coach video
I later came across a video of a fifth grade teacher in North Carolina who has personalized handshakes for everyone of his students.
He is quite impressive too with the number of students he has and the speed at which he does the
handshakes with his kids. After being inspired by these two videos, I set out a challenge for myself. I would ask my homeroom students to come up with a personalized handshake that I would have to learn. I would attempt to learn all 15 handshakes by the end of the year. This was also a challenge for the kids to come up with a unique handshake. I showed them the two videos to get their creative juices flowing.
Perseverance was the Lower School value for the month of April. Perseverance is an accurate
description of what I was experiencing with these handshakes. Over the course of several months, I patiently learned each student’s handshake. Some were easy to remember, while others were more difficult because of their complicated movements or similarities to another student’s handshake. Some days I wondered if I was going to be able to learn all 15 handshakes.
After persevering through learning combinations of high fives, fist bumps, and dabs, I started to see major progress. My students were also learning each other’s handshakes and they even asked me to come up with one. Mine consists of two fist bumps and two “shakas,” an homage to my Hawaii roots. I had created the challenge of mastering all 15 handshakes by the end of the school year, and during the last week of school, I achieved my goal!
Joy was the Lower School value for the month of May. Joy is a perfect word to describe how I felt. At one of our Morning Meetings in Greer, one of the speakers spoke about what joy is and how sometimes you do not experience joy immediately or instantly. The joy coming from practicing and hard work is an even sweeter joy. I hope I showed my students an example that setting goals, and persevering to achieve them, brings inner satisfaction. These individual handshakes also brought me closer to each student. We now have a personal connection and special memory with each other. I’ll high five to that!
Ms. Won’s homeroom doing the shaka! Ms. Won was born and raised in Hawaii. The shaka sign, commonly seen in Hawaii, conveys the feeling of aloha (love), friendship, and to “hang loose”.