It might be one of the best parts of being a teacher — getting the chance to celebrate student success and provide them with positive feedback for a job well done.
Why is it important to give students positive feedback and celebrate their successes?
The researchers tell us that celebrating student success in the classroom doesn’t just make our kids feel good. It significantly impacts their memory, learning, motivation, and other cognitive functions. When students receive positive feedback for something that they have done, it is essentially a signal to their brain saying ‘do it again’.
Celebrating success is an essential element of every classroom. It is the driver behind student motivation, self-esteem, and creating a positive classroom culture. There are many ways that teachers and principals can motivate students by celebrating their achievements and providing positive reinforcement.
How to Celebrate Student Success
Read on to find out how you can celebrate student success in your classroom … and a few watch-outs to keep in mind.
Celebrate With a Class High-Five
Celebrating student success and building relationships go hand in hand.
A quick way to encourage class morale and to raise the profile of even the quietest member of your class is to encourage class high-fives to celebrate student success — or class elbow bumps, air high fives, etc. in these times of social distancing.
Encourage every student in the class to acknowledge the success of an individual by giving him or her a well-deserved high-five. For as little disruption as possible, this works most effectively at the end of the lesson or at the end of the day as students leave the room.
Be mindful of students with additional needs who may not enjoy this experience.
There are all too many times when we have to draw a deep breath and pick up the phone to call a parent about a problem in the classroom. But calling home to tell parents something good about their child? We don’t get to do that nearly as much … and yet it’s much, much more fun.
Just a tip: Grab some tissues.
If there’s one way to make parents tear up, it’s to give them a call to tell them how well their child is doing. It makes parents feel proud. But most importantly it makes students feel proud of themselves and of each other.
Don’t forget to be mindful of cultural differences and sensitive family dynamics. You may also need to give busy working parents a heads-up via email before you make the call.
Is there anything more uplifting than running through a human tunnel? Celebration tunnels have to be my all-time favorite way to celebrate student success — no teaching resources required.
Kids love it, and let’s face it, adults love it too. Check out how much fun we had celebrating in the Teach Starter office!
Celebrate Life Skills
As teachers, it can be easy to fall into the trap of celebrating student achievement based solely on academics. But not only can that create a fixed mindset, it often leaves students who don’t make the honor roll left out.
Watching out for ways to ensure you celebrate all kinds of success is an important part of building a positive classroom culture. One perfect place to celebrate student success that’s not about the letter or number at the top of the paper is in the areas of personal and social capability.
I’m a big fan of hanging this using little clothespins along with badges that show off successes in communicating, working collaboratively, and more. Hanging displays help to keep surfaces free, are effective eye-catchers, and they also act as daily reminders for you and your class.
- Create a name tag for each student..
- Attach a length of string (one for each student) to the wall using mounting putty.
- Provide a container of mini clothespins.
- Help your students to hang up their badges (we printed these personal and social capability badges) on their string when they are awarded.
Send Postcards and Letters Home
Kids love mail. Heck, WE love mail (except bills … sigh). Sending home letters or even just a postcard in the mail is a great way to make students feel good and also incorporate their family members into celebrating their classroom successes.
Why is receiving a postcard or letter in the mail so magical? Letter writing takes time, shows a deep level of care, and makes the receiver feel valued. The extra effort of writing a letter goes a long way in making your students feel special, appreciated, and proud of themselves. Letters are timeless treasures that make memories.
It’s easy to make postcards on your own — to create a personalized design, why not layer up images of your student’s artwork? For a next-level surprise, why not send the postcards before a break so that they are received while your all out of the classroom?
For quick and easy letter templates, take a look at our growing collection of Positive Parent Notes that can be adapted to meet your needs. If you want to keep things simple, you could use an award from our Certificates and Awards collection and send that home too.
Students tend to look up to their buddies and see them as role models. So, it makes perfect sense to ask buddies to help celebrate student success by presenting student awards.
We are all familiar with buddy systems. A buddy system is where a child gets paired with another child, usually one that is older. A buddy system can help students to feel valued and supported, teach important social skills and create a caring culture in the school.
You’ll find that awards and certificates given by class buddies have a whole new meaning and value. So, simply choose one or two students each week to receive a buddy award.
Celebration Envelopes are a great way to recognize student success and to develop peer relationships. This fun activity is particularly suitable for the upper elementary grades and encourages students to think about the strengths of others.
This activity works well in small groups as well as a whole class activity. Here’s how it works:
- Provide each student with an envelope and a blank piece of paper inside.
- Ask your students to write their name on the envelope and to gather in a circle.
- Instruct your students to pass their envelope to the person on their right.
- Ask your students to read the name on the envelope and to think of a strength that they recognize in this person.
- Encourage students to write this strength on the piece of paper.
- Students continue to pass the envelopes around the circle and to record the strengths of their peers.
- The process is complete when all envelopes have been returned to their owner.
Plan a Principal Class Visit
There is huge power in asking your school principal to visit your classroom to celebrate student success. Book in some time in their schedule and ask your school principal to drop by.
During your principal’s visit, be sure to give him or her a tour of your wonderful classroom. Showcase the amazing achievements that your students are making. Most importantly, don’t forget to share how you have been celebrating student success in your classroom.
You might even provide him or her with one or two individual awards to present. I like to make sure that there is a badge for everyone so that no one goes home empty-handed.
Find a badge that your students will love in our huge collection of Star Student Badges.
Set up a Student Success Wow Wall
A great way to celebrate student success is to create a “Wow Work” wall where students can proudly put their work on display. What’s more, you can encourage classroom visitors to check it out!
Check out this eye-catching example of a Wow Work Wall by @the.colourful.teacher.
How often do you provide students with an opportunity to celebrate their accomplishments?
I hope that this blog inspires you to create more time and space to celebrate students’ success. Which idea are you going to try first?
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