Writing Positive Notes to My Students is the BEST Way to Start the Day.

Regular Radical Readers know that I made a commitment last year to handwriting positive notes to the parents of all of my students (see here and here).  The entire project was awesome.  Parents appreciated hearing kind words about their kids and kids appreciated being noticed.

I started a handwritten note project again this week, but with a twist inspired by Christine Tuttell.  This year, I’m writing directly to my kids instead of their parents — and along with each note, I’m giving my kids a cookie:

Like Chris — who does a similar project with the staff members that she supports as an Instructional Technology Facilitator — I’m calling these daily gifts of positive words of praise paired with sweet treats “Kudos Cookies.”  Also like Chris, my main goal is just to spread a bit of joy every day.

And like last year, my kids are really enjoying receiving letters from me.  Every hand delivery has been met with smiles.  In fact, many mornings, I think I’m catching kids off guard simply because they aren’t used to getting direct praise from me.  That makes me feel bad — I wish I had the chance to give every kid direct praise every single day.  But the reality is that with 120 kids and 50 minute class periods, things move too fast in a middle school to interact with every child in a deep and meaningful way every day.

Here’s what’s interesting, though:  I get just as much benefit from the positive notes that I’m writing as my students do!

Starting every morning sitting quietly at my desk thinking about just what makes each of the kids in my room special matters.  It serves as a constant reminder that no matter how hard teaching can be, it is truly an amazing profession.  Better yet, it serves as a constant reminder that every kid sitting in my classroom has unique sets of strengths that are worthy of recognition and celebration.

That kind of intentional reflection about every single kid gives ME joy, too.  Better yet, that kind of intentional reflection makes me more tolerant in the moments when the wheels fall off during the course of the day for the kids in my classroom.  Because I’ve started the day by deliberately naming the strengths of my students, their weaknesses don’t leave me frustrated.

So whaddya’ think?  Are Kudos Cookies a project you’d ever consider tackling?  

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Related Radical Reads:

When Was the Last Time YOU Wrote a Positive Note Home to Parents?

Simple Truth:  Kids Want to be Noticed

 

14 comments

  1. Pingback: Positive Feedback to Students
  2. Pingback: Want Better Faculty Meetings? Start Here. |
    • Bill Ferriter

      Hey Santo,

      What a GREAT way to start faculty meetings! I’m going to steal this idea and see if I can get my faculty to do the same thing.

      Thanks for sharing!
      Bill

  3. ctuttell

    Bill,

    My favorite line… “Here’s what’s interesting, though: I get just as much benefit from the positive notes that I’m writing as my students do!”

    I think people often forget this – when we intentionally try to raise others up we benefit as well. I reflect each morning on the positive moments I saw at school the day before and write specific and authentic notes. There are always moments you can find, even in the most difficult days. And like you, I like the quiet moments of reflection in the morning.

    Last week I quietly walked into a grade level planning meeting and slid some cookies and the note next to a teacher who immediately jumped up and hugged me with tears in her eyes – you never know the impact 1 small note will make.

    It is starting to catch on and now staff members are asking about and looking forward to the #kudoskookies delivery each day.

    Thank you for shining a light on this and for what you are doing for your kids. JOY, KINDNESS and GRATITUDE are such easy thing to spread!

    You are AWESOME!
    Chris

    • Bill Ferriter

      Chris wrote,

      I think people often forget this – when we intentionally try to raise others up we benefit as well. I reflect each morning on the positive moments I saw at school the day before and write specific and authentic notes. There are always moments you can find, even in the most difficult days. And like you, I like the quiet moments of reflection in the morning.

      —————-
      I know that I forget this, Chris!

      That’s why the routine matters so much to me. They put me in a more grateful, open, outward facing frame of mind than I would have otherwise been in. And given that I tend to trend towards the pessimist, I need that at the start of every day.

      So some thinking for you: Do you realize why it is so important to Tweet and Blog?

      Your willingness to share pushed me to something that is making my world better. That’s super cool.

      Rock on,
      Bill

  4. Kyle Hamstra

    Fantastic idea! Hand-written notes go a long way, and they’re hard to come by in a digital world these days. I see this as one more step in building relationships with students, self-esteem-boosting, and a great start to any day. No one has time anymore–I like how you intentionally schedule and make time to do this. I like how this is student-centered. Now… Can you just imagine the impact on a school/community culture if educators did this for each other?

    • Bill Ferriter

      Kyle wrote:

      No one has time anymore–I like how you intentionally schedule and make time to do this.

      ————–

      You got it, Kyle — or at least this is the excuse that we make for not “giving” more to other people. We don’t comment on blogs because we don’t have the time, we don’t write notes to one another because we don’t have the time, we don’t stop by one another’s rooms for informal networking because we don’t have the time.

      But the truth is that, just like everything in our lives, the time exists if we are willing to prioritize it. It might mean that something less important gets pushed aside, but the time is there.

      I’m fixin’ to rethink my priorities and put connections of every kind at the top of the list.

      Rock on,
      Bill

  5. Matt Townsley

    Hey, Bill! I wanted to let you know an educator in my district read your post and decided to initiate a “write positive notes to kids” agenda item on today’s staff meeting. She even brought cookies!

    • Bill Ferriter

      Hey Matt,

      That’s AWESOME!

      I actually heard in the comment section from a guy named Santo that every one of their faculty meetings starts with writing positive notes to kids. What an incredible way to start a meeting, right? Not only does it ensure that every kid gets kind words from their teachers, it puts every teacher in the right frame of mind. It’s hard NOT to be student-centered when you’ve just written to your students!

      Really cool stuff.
      Bill

  6. georgecouros

    I know you like comments so I am going to give you a positive cookie my friend 🙂 Thank you for all that you do for education. You are a beam of light…remember how important that is in our world. Keep doing what you do!

    • Bill Ferriter

      Hey Pal,

      Thanks a ton for stopping by! Always jazzed when people think that my content makes sense. To be honest, I never really know.

      Hope you are well and happy. Miss connecting with you.

      Rock on,
      Bill

  7. Robbi Nace Keller

    Sound so like a wonderful idea! Sometimes we get so caught up in plans and grading and everything else going on, that it is refreshing to take a step back and appreciate our students for who they are!

    • Bill Ferriter

      Hey Robbi,

      You got it. We DO get caught up in everything else — and for a guy like me who tends to be a pessimist, all of those other things bring me down. Starting the day with students in mind has changed everything for me. It’s totally worth doing!

      Thanks for stopping by,
      Bill