If there is one thing teachers know, it is that we do not simply teach academic content. It is also our responsibility to instill character and compassion within our students. From day one, we create and implement routines and procedures with the objective of fostering a safe and positive environment for all learners. One can search the internet for hours for fun and creative ways to accomplish this task. So here I go, adding one more to the list.
One year I decided to add another routine to cultivate kind and positive classroom behaviors. In addition to my “Raining Compliments” wall, I created the “Wall of Gratitude and Praise”. This idea is so simple and executes beautifully.
Materials you need:
- Letters that spell out “Wall of Gratitude and Praise”
- Paper for students to write messages on
- I used construction paper and cut them in rectangular shape. You can select any color you want based on your classroom decor. I went with whichever color I had in my storage. 🙂
- Wall space that will allow for students to continuing adding to the wall throughout the year
- Each Friday, in the last 15 minutes or so, each team (my students’ desks were arranged in groups of 4-6) would get a couple of minutes to nominate one classmate that deserved words of praise or gratitude that week.
- The nominee could not be someone from their own group.
- The nominee could not have been nominated the past week.
- This allows for students to ‘spread the love’ and not have the same students receiving messages each week.
- Took only a short time for students to understand that
- Words of praise: anything a student did worthy of praise that week, i.g. trying their best, amazing participation in an activity or debate, excelling in a sports tournament, a great drawing, bravery in trying something new, etc.
- Words of gratitude: anything a student did that was kind, period.
- Each student then crafted one or two sentences about the individual and wrote it in marker on the paper. Specificity was highly encouraged to make the sentiment more meaningful.
- One person from each team then read the words aloud to the class so we could celebrate each student selected.
- We then tacked up each paper on the wall and continued adding to it for the entire year.
It was a beautiful thing to watch grow, because it wasn’t just the wall that was growing. The students themselves grew in recognizing and freely giving kind words of praise and gratitude. In the midst of classroom work, we started to hear things like, “Oh my, that is something worth complimenting” or “Wow, _______ did an amazing job! Let’s remember that for Friday.”
Like I said, it was beautiful.