The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Filling the Compliment Jar

I have a small, clear vase that I keep on my desk. It isn’t for flowers, pens, pencils, or anything like that. It is for compliments.

Well, actually, it is for small glass pebbles that represent compliments. And even though it is a vase, I refer to it as the compliment jar. For each compliment the class receives from another teacher or adult in the building, I put one of the glass pebbles in the vase. If I am gone and the compliment comes from a substitute teacher or during a time when a substitute teacher is working with them, the number of pebbles is doubled. If they happen to get a compliment from our principal, who is a very busy person, we put five pebbles in the jar.

I took the time to count them out last year and discovered that the vase holds 168 pebbles. We filled the jar for the first time this week. Which means the students in my class have received over 100 compliments this year. (They haven’t actually received 168, because many of the pebbles have come during the time they have had a substitute teacher, and they’ve received a few compliments from our principal, so we don’t know the exact number, but they’ve definitely been complimented over 100 times.)

To celebrate filling our compliment jar for the first time, the students asked if we could have a movie party this afternoon. I brought in a few movies from home and let them vote on them to decide which we would watch. The choices were A Bug’s Life or Horton Hears a Who. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the latter, which made me happy because Horton Hears a Who ranks among my top all-time favourite stories by Dr. Seuss. (Long time readers of my blog may recall that I have used Dr. Seuss stories to teach social/emotional learning lessons as well as parts of the English/Language Arts curriculum.)

In addition to watching a movie, several students chose to come to school in their pajamas. On top of this, one of our amazing Title I reading teachers made cupcakes for the class. It was a great way to celebrate a great accomplishment!

As we move forward, I am going to encourage the class to set a goal for filling the compliment jar faster than we did the first time. I would love for us to fill the jar at least once a quarter instead of once a semester. Of course, this relies on other teachers taking note of my students’ positive behaviour and remarking on it, but that usually happens, anyway!

By the way, tomorrow is Wear and Share Star Wars Day/Proud To Be Me Day! I have spoken with the students in both fourth grade classes and encouraged them to wear something tomorrow that highlights something geeky about him- or herself. More on this tomorrow!

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