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

Giving Compliments

I don’t do this very often, but today is a follow-up to yesterday’s post about my classroom Golden Apple award. I have been telling my students that I wanted them to start giving the award to each other, but I hadn’t really explained what that would look like. I do know that the class looks forward to it, as nearly every student asked me at least once during the morning when we were going to do it.

Our morning was busy, but we got to it right before lunch. Before having the previous student award it to someone new, I asked the students to take a moment and think about who they think could receive the award. Then they shared their nominations with the class. This idea grew out of a meeting with my building PBIS team, where someone mentioned the idea of having students nominate a “hero of the week.”

I was feeling a bit cautious as I asked for nominations because I honestly had no idea what kind of responses I would get. Conventional wisdom says that teachers should always anticipate responses before asking questions, but I have found that the unanticipated responses are often some of the most insightful. About half the class offered to nominate someone else in the room. Some of the comments that were shared as supporting statements for the nominations included the following:

  • She is a great friend to everyone all the time
  • He is a very hard worker
  • She always has something nice to say
  • She gives her best
  • He tries his best, even when it is challenging
  • He is a good friend and helps others

There were more comments, but those were some of the ones that stuck out in my mind. Then I asked yesterday’s recipient to think about the nominations and think about her own observations and select one person. She looked around, announced who it was, and then took the time to explain why she wanted to award the apple to this particular student. Everyone else cheered and clapped. Then I pointed out that many students had been nominated but we only have one apple. I reiterated my goal for a different student to get the apple each day, but I am asking the students to self-monitor this.

This has become a wonderful way or students to support one another, give compliments, and think about all the good things they see going on each day. I am eager to continue this tradition and see how it helps our classroom community grow stronger and closer as the year goes on!

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