, Last Updated: 2:08 PM ET
Teacher Barry White Jr. knows how to get his students pumped about learning.
Instead of dreading the beginning of classes, the fifth grade Charlotte, N.C., English teacher gets his kids excited about the day with custom secret handshakes for each student who comes through his door.
“They know when they get to the front door we do our ‘good mornings,’ and then it’s time to go,” White told ABC News. “I’m always pumped up and then we start doing the moves and that brings them excitement and pumps them up for a high-energy class.”
What started as one handshake with one student soon grew into a handshake movement White believes helps him connect with this students in order to create a more fun and motivating learning environment.
“I started with one simple handshake last year with a fourth grader,” he told ABC News. “She would wait for me every morning before she’d go to class.”
“This year I started making handshakes with the kids at recess. It was just one or two students and then it became contagious,” he added. “I saw how much it meant to them, so I said, ‘Come on. Everyone come on.’ Then it was my full class, then it was kids from other classes. Now I have third graders wanting to do it too.”
While learning the moves to so many individual routines seems challenging, White says he does each shake so often that at this point, it’s muscle memory.
“I just know the certain moves that go with certain kids because it’s personalized. For example, I started a step team at the school. Some of my fifth graders I teach are on that step team and you’ll notice we step a little bit in their handshakes.”
White says he was inspired by his favourite basketball player, Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James, who uses a similar tactic to pump up his teammates.
“You see that bond and how close they are,” he said of the Cavs. “I wanted to bring that feeling into the entire fifth grade.”