Continuing on the subject of encouragement, I want to share the third and fourth way teachers can encourage students at any level:
3. Personalize recognition
Steve Farber, an accomplished public speaker and trainer once received a thank you note. What was different from the ones he received every time he taught was that this one was addressed to his son:
To Steve’s son:
I understand that you are curious about what your dad does when his job takes him away from home. I’ll be it’s tough on you sometimes to have him away when you’d like to have him home more than he is….
Your dad helps people to make their lives better and happier. And he teaches all this in a fun way so that the time we spend with him in class is really enjoyable.
I just wanted you to know what we really appreciate your sharing him this week, and if he’s anywhere near as good or as fun as a father as he is a teacher, you’ve got yourself one fine dad.’
One of your dad’s students
Carl could have bought a regular thank you card and sent it to Steve. But he PAID ATTENTION and personalized his recognition. He heard that Steve had a son that was curious about what his dad did. He went the extra mile to recognize his teacher.
If a child has gone beyond the call of duty to accomplish a goal, then it behooves you as his/her teacher to go the extra mile to find out what would make him/her feel the most honor when you recognize him/her.
What are his favorite colors? What is the most meaningful to him? Should you invite her family to be present when you recognize her?
Every time you plan to recognize a child, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to make this special, dramatic, and unique for this child?’
Pay attention to your prizes – is this something Sally would appreciate? Is this prize something John will treasure?
Newsletter – put pictures of kids. Recognize them for everyone to see.
So ask yourselves this question:
How can you do a better job at finding out what honors children and personalizing their recognition?
4. Celebrate Together
‘Celebrations touch our hearts and fire our imaginations, bonding people together and connecting us to shared myths and values.’ Terrence E. Deal and M.K. Key
Every culture has a ritual of celebration. It is an innate need in the soul of man. Think about our year – Every month or two, we celebrate together as a nation – Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, thanksgiving and Christmas. These celebrations are the glue that hold our nation together.
Every celebration has a dual purpose. We celebrate because we know celebration makes people happier and boosts their performance. The other side of celebration is to recognize an individual or group for upholding a cherished standard. 4th of July: Fireworks, bbq’s – remember principles of freedom and those who died to give it to us.
In addition to school-mandated celebrations, create your own celebrations. Go beyond the usual pizza party and create celebrations that reach the heart of your children:
Visit places that are known to be fun places to work at…
Study people and organizations that celebrate others well – study their enthusiasm and energy.
Put up a bragging board in your classroom
‘I heard something good about your child’ notes to give to parents
Don’t wait until the test results are in. Celebrate kids’ efforts in the progress.
The motto of the organization I lead is ‘Celebrating Life Together.’ One of the things we do as a body is to celebrate our volunteers on a monthly basis. We call our volunteer base, the DREAM TEAM. We take a few hours every month to celebrate our volunteers with a party of some kind – sometimes it is a very fancy and expensive meal. All the leaders serve the volunteers. Other times, we get together over desert and coffee and my husband and I make sure we go to every volunteer, shake their hand and tell them how grateful we are about their contribution. We verbally thank outstanding volunteers and fire them up about our plans for the future.
By making achievements public, you encourage the person being recognized and the hearts of those who witness the award.
What can you celebrate:
New curriculum, losing a tooth, good grades, kindness in action, birthdays, forgiveness, accomplishment of a short-term goal, individual accomplishments, grief over a lost loved one, return from vacation, telling the truth, refusing to cheat, etc.
Ask yourself this question:
How often do I celebrate children’s accomplishments? Is it often enough?