Posted by: jockmackenzie | May 1, 2009

The Secret Handshake (Well, you can’t hug ’em)

In my fourteen years as an elementary teacher, I learned that some kids loved a hug. I never hugged them but more than one hugged me. Poof! Out of nowhere, and often when least expected, a pint-sized bundle would appear and before I could say a word, I’d be the recipient of a hug. Just as suddenly, the hugger often disappeared back into the masses in the hallway or on the playground.

I regret the fact that hugs just aren’t acceptable in schools – on almost all occasions – so I have adopted what I call the “Secret Handshake.” It’s not a secret because I teach it to all of my students. I guess it’s our secret. One of my methods of showing my appreciation for a job well done is to offer this handshake. Most kids like it. Some kids like it a lot!

The actual shake isn’t critical. Mine has four parts – regular shake, what I gather is called the “homie” handshake, sliding into a clasp of the fingers, followed by a high five. Speed is key, the faster the better.

For me, it offers an opportunity to allow touching that is appropriate, to connect with another human being in an open but close manner. Some kids really need to touch someone who cares.

Here’s a shot of me teaching the “Secret Handshake” at the Beginning Teachers’ Conference in Richmond, B.C.

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