For the past five Mondays, I’ve set my intention on who I’m going to single out for the week. No, not in the negative sense, but with a purposeful one. Every Monday, I pick five students in each class who I will observe that week, and whose parents will receive virtual praise on Friday.
Why do I do this? It’s simple: parents are used to being emailed or contacted about the bad behaviors. Your child won’t stop talking. She was caught cheating. He’s failing. She has Saturday school. But how often do you send praise?
How it all began
I started to do this my first year of teaching English, but instead of emailing, I made phone calls home. As you can imagine, parents were pleasantly surprised to receive the call! However I just never had enough time to keep up with it, so the practice went by the wayside.
Over the summer I realized that I could pick it up again this school year, and that it would actually be quite easy. I just have to pick five students per class and “catch” them doing something well. I make a note of it, and on Friday, I send the email to the parent and student. Doing this on Friday is intention because I want the whole family to receive some good news right before the weekend! My method of choosing the students is super scientific: I start at the beginning or end of the alphabet and work my way inward.
Why it’s easy
Luckily, I use JupiterEd, which makes this actually quite easy. I simply go to the Log, click on the name of the student, add a description of what they did, click on “Good Behavior” (which is CRUCIAL, or it’s sent home as a discipline alert), and then send the alert to the parent and student. It takes me no more than two minutes per student, which is definitely time well-spent!
Your descriptions don’t have to be lengthy; you really only need a couple of sentences to get the point across. This past week, I wrote the following for one of my students:
Thank you for your hard work on your blog post this week, I see a lot of improvement! I really appreciate your effort!
Short and sweet!
I’ve only had a couple of students and parents respond to these emails, but I know they read them. Every student, no matter how difficult, does SOMETHING well at some point during the week. Plus, we’ve all heard and know about the power of praise, so setting the intention to do this each and every week ensures that my students are recognized and appreciated.
So why not try it out? You can start out with a couple of students per class. Just write their name down somewhere (preferably where students won’t see, or they may suspect it’s a list of BAD students), and make a point of noticing their work and behavior during the week. I personally choose NOT to tell them so that they’re not purposefully trying. I want them to know that they’re great in some way, no matter what. Plus I like the element of surprise on Friday!