I have a habit.
I greet students.
I greet every student I can by name.
In the morning, between classes, anytime I see them.
I find it entertaining.
Its a good challenge.
Since I only teach freshmen and I've been around a while, I know a lot of kids.
I wish I could say I remember every name.
Sometimes I see a kid I recognize, but the name escapes me.
This is embarrassing.
To cover, I usually just say "Hi!" and hope for the best.
If they engage, I pray they are wearing and ID so I can cheat.
Despite the fact that it is difficult and distracting, I like speaking to the students I know.
I believe that being addressed by name makes a difference.
It is much easier to believe some one cares if they know your name.
It is harder to be rude or ignore someone who smiles at you...and knows your name.
The opinion of a person who is nice to you, who remembers you, matters more.
I'm sure most adults in my building find talking to me between classes completely crazy-making.
I interrupt the adult I am speaking to, and myself, constantly to say hello to passing students.
I find it fun.
And I rarely experience negative reactions.
Actually, lots of the reactions are pretty humorous, especially if I'm not near my own classroom.
I say hello and a student jumps and smiles.
"What floor am I on?"
"Ms. Hirsch, whatcha doing up here?"
"Ms. Hirsch, you scared me!"
This afternoon was an exceptionally cute encounter:
"Hi, Lindsay!" I said as we passed each other.
She looked in every direction but at me, in front of her, behind her.
"Over here, it was me!"
Another full survey of the hall behind her.
"Lindsay, I'm right here!"
Finally, she makes eye contact, and says "Oh man, Ms. Hirsch, how'd you do that? I didn't even see you!" and laughs.
This is a gift.
Between classes, I pride myself on those greetings...
and on being incredibly obnoxious.
No one really hangs out in my hall that doesn't belong there.
I am loud.
I am friendly.
I join every large group conversation loudly inquiring "Really? That is fascinating!"
When couples start cozying up I pronounce that they better not burn my eyeballs. I point and exclaim about how cute they are. I give movie ratings.
Its obnoxious, and maybe even a little mean.
But it is rare that kids congregate and act foolish near me.
After the bell rings, I am equally persistent.
I call chronic hall dwellers Latey McLatepants.
I remind them that an A in hallways won't help them graduate.
I stand near them and just wait.
I tell them to suck it up and play along to get along because it is good practice for the rest of their lives.
Sometimes, I escort kids to class.
Sometimes, with kids I know, we have a little heart to heart about choices or life.
Today, I walked out of my room during plan to see a student of mine who belonged in the nearest class talking to another young lady.
I stopped and just looked at her.
I was smiling, though I am sure that wasn't the only emotion showing on my face.
Immediately, "Ms. Hirsch, I'm going to class."
I looked at her some more.
"For real, we just need to talk a second."
Pause and look and look and pause.
"Come on! I'm not late, my class is right here!"
I didn't say one word to that child.
Not. One. Word.
Her friend gave her an apologetic look and took off for her own class.
Finally, she opened the door to class, "Ok, Ms. Hirsch, stop looking at me like that!"
"If you want a different look, get to class on time."
She sighed mightily as the door swung shut behind her.
Hopefully, she won't be late again tomorrow. She is rarely late to my class anymore.
The point is, I have a habit of obsessively greeting students by name.
And despite the inconveniences it can cause (plan period? what plan period?), its worth it.
It is always a good thing to show a kid you care.
It doesn't take much.
A smile and a name is usually enough.
And if even one kid feels loved,
If even one kid makes a better choice,
If even one kid cares,
Its a good thing.