2016 Jan 11: The Power of Praise
Positive reinforcement can have a profound impact on whoever receives it. We all need assurances that we are doing a good job or making progress toward a goal, however in some cases, the only feedback given is negative.... This week Ms. Kelly Blair, Rockdale Junior High Principal, has a new approach on her campus to insure students & teachers receive the positive reinforcement they need to help motivate success.
Have you ever wanted to play hookie? Have you ever just felt like you weren’t up for the whole “work thing”? Of course, who hasn’t? Anyone that says they haven’t felt that at one point or another, would be lying. But most of us are able to fight temptation and get the job done. So what stops us from giving in? For some people, it’s about the money. For some, it’s the social aspect, and for others, it’s about the recognition of a job well done. Everyone in the workforce has something that intrinsically motivates them to be productive at work each day.
So, what makes education any different? Unfortunately, we are unable to provide our students with a paycheck at the end of a grading cycle and our teachers certainly aren’t planning to get rich teaching. We are, however, asking them to put in 8 hours of hard work, 5 days a week. While the social part of school is appealing, that time is limited during the school day. So what can we do at RJH to motivate our staff and students each day?
At Rockdale Junior High, we have implemented a number of ways to reinforce positive behavior with our students. One of the most significant events we’ve implemented is recognizing students through an awards assembly each six weeks. Students are recognized for perfect attendance, earning all A’s, earning A’s and B’s, or by being nominated by a teacher as the STAR student. While many awards focus on academic excellence, the STAR student award is different. All students are eligible, regardless of attendance or academics. Each teacher nominates their STAR student for anything from participation to improved behavior. STAR students receive a personalized note from their teacher on the back of their certificate. By recognizing students each grading cycle, we are able to highlight and acknowledge the positive things being accomplished by our students. Students are also motivated continuously throughout the year and receive a fresh start each marking period. The awards assemblies also allow parents to be involved in the celebration of their student’s success.
We are proud of our students’ accomplishments. Our teachers are the ones who deserve all the praise. Each month, staff members nominate and vote for one of their peers for “staff member of the month”. During our monthly faculty meeting, one teacher and one paraprofessional is recognized and presented with a certificate in front of their peers. Additionally, our teachers and administration submit “shout outs” throughout the week to recognize their peers. Each Friday, these “shout outs” are sent out to the staff recognizing their efforts for the week. Another way that our staff is recognized among their peers is through regular Learning Walks. During this time, groups of teachers go into classrooms and conduct observations of other staff members. This allows for professional dialogue, reflection, learning opportunities, and celebration of fellow teachers.
While these small tokens of appreciation may seem insignificant to some, to others it provides fulfillment that monetary compensation never could. Rockdale Junior High staff and students are “Ready to Teach and Ready to Learn!”