“Having basic social skills, like a good handshake and knowing how to carry on a conversation, will help them in all aspects of their lives moving forward.”



“Dear Classroom Whisperer:

I’m a 5th grade teacher in New York and we have about a month of school left. All our testing is over and my class did really well so there’s very school work left to do and my class and I are going crazy.

Do you have any suggestions about some things we can work on with the time we have left?

Mrs. L., Bored in Buffalo.


Dear Mrs. L., Bored in Buffalo:

I suggest you work on social skills. We really don’t know what technical skills our students will need to succeed in the future as things are changing so fast. But what we do know, is that having basic social skills, like a good handshake and knowing how to carry on a conversation, will help them in all aspects of their lives moving forward. There are thousands of free lesson plans online that you can use like this one for Shaking Hands from Pat Hensley at Teaching.Monster.Com:

1. Introduce the skill (Shaking Hands) and explain why it is important in the workplace.

2. We talk about how to shake hands and what you say when you shake hands.

3. I model the behavior by asking another adult to enter my room so I can shake their hand.

4. I show video clips that give examples of people shaking hands. There are plenty examples of politicians shaking hands and athletes shaking hands before a basketball game or business people shaking hands.

5. Then I interact with each student to practice that behavior.

6. I pair students up to practice that behavior.

7. I ask the teams to prepare a small booklet for younger children to teach them this skill. Students need to write down the steps and draw a picture for each step.

8. I shake their hands each day when they enter the classroom as reinforcement of the skill.

Another great thing you can do is class is come up with a community project to help others like being reading buddies at the elementary school or cleaning up a local park. This is a great way to teach empathy and social responsibility.

Thanks so much for your question and for all you do everyday to give our kids the skills they need to really succeed.

If you have a question, reply to this post, find me on Twitter @rustymayinc or you can email me.


Rusty May is a Classroom Whisperer who thrives to inspire educators to connect more completely with all their students by training them to be assertive classroom managers and positive disciplinarians. In 2002 Rusty created SchoolToolsTv.Com, a daily SEL show that reaches 25k Students per day. His inspiration are his wife and their two children.

Rusty’s trainings are fun, interactive and full of real tools you can start using in your classroom the very next day without any prep or additional busy work on your end. Ask for a free quote today!