Friday, 08 July 2011 21:50

Recognition: The 10th Nurturing Force of Intrinsic Motivation (Part 2 of 3)

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In my previous blog post I described how consistent, thoughtful recognition can make students feel valued, boost self-esteem, and nurture intrinsic motivation. In this blog post I will present a list of ways, formal and informal, in which teachers and students can offer recognition on a regular basis.  Try as many of these options as you can.  You will notice an immediate change in your classroom environment.

Statements of Recognition - Whenever you have a few free moments before the end of a class period, ask your students to point out the special efforts of their classmates.  The acknowledgements can focus on academic achievements, the habits of mind or character, or gestures of friendship.  Make sure the students mention both whom they are recognizing and why they are recognizing that person.  For instance, it’s not enough for Alexis to say, “Henry.”  She would need to make a more specific statement, such as “I recognize Henry because he has really been working hard on his math lately.”  Also, encourage the kids to acknowledge as many different people as possible.  This way, every child experiences the pride that comes from being recognized.  If you notice that certain children do not receive recognition from classmates, make it a point to acknowledge them yourself.  Every child must feel valued.

“Way to Go” Notes - These are notes that any team member can give to any other team member for a job well done. “Way to Go” Notes truly bring out the best in kids, both those giving and those receiving the acknowledgements.  In fact, a few of my kids enjoy giving these notes more than they do receiving them.  I’ll never forget the day Sara was so excited to hand out a “Way to Go” that she built a wall of books around her desk to hide her blushing face.  These papers take almost no time to fill out and to present, but the positive feelings they produce are lasting. Kids develop very clever ways of delivering these sheets.  Some will wait until after school and place a note in the recipient’s desk so that (s)he will discover it the following morning.  Others will have me run interference for them as they transport the notes.  For example, Chris once asked me if I could call Tiimo outside for a minute to discuss something so he could hide a “Way To Go” in Tiimo’s backpack.  Most kids, though, will just walk over and deliver the notes face to face.  Seeing the handshakes and smiles that accompany these exchanges is one of the highlights of my day.  

Recognition Board - On a bulletin board or wall area, create a space for every student to display his or her best, favorite, or most satisfying piece of work.  Allow the kids to update their displays at any time.  Giving this area a name such as “The Quality Wall” or “The Pride Zone” further distinguishes it as a special place.

Recognition Day - A formal event held every few months, Recognition Day is a time to honor the noteworthy efforts of all team members.  At the ceremony each student receives a certificate stating an accomplishment for which (s)he is being recognized.  Again, these acknowledgements can pertain to academic work, habits of mind or character, or gestures of friendship.  Every student is nominated either by a teacher, classmate, parent, or administrator.  In order to add a special feeling to the event, and in order to accommodate parents and other guests, arrange, if you can, to have Recognition Day in the school auditorium or cafeteria.  Students can even give speeches at the outset of the ceremony, act as emcees, and present the certificates to one another.  The more student-run, the better.   


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