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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