This is a cross post from my personal blog.
In 2017, Bill Ferriter (one of my main edu-influencers) posted a great bit about writing positive notes to kids. I was inspired by this post and I thought it was amazing that Bill was taking a little bit of time every morning to acknowledge the awesome things that his kids were doing.
In the comment section of that post, Santo Nicotera, talked about how he and his staff take a few minutes out of every faculty meeting to write notes to kids. They keep track and ensure that every student is recognized over a three month period.
After that comment was made, Bill launched a tweet which challenged Principals to incorporate Santo’s practice into their faculty meeting. I tried to find that tweet today but to no avail.
In September 2017, we adopted this practice into our staff meetings at St. Mark School. When I introduced the idea to our staff, they were extremely supportive. One staff member said, “Even if only one kid is positively affected by this, then it is worth it.” So, at every staff meeting, we take the first ten minutes to write cards of appreciation to our students. It never gets dropped from the agenda because it is the first order of business on every agenda. We have a spreadsheet with all of our students names and we keep track to ensure that every student will receive one by the end of the school year.
Since that time, we have continued our note writing project and we have noticed many positives benefits in terms of relationships with kids and overall school culture. One staff member told me that simply writing a card to a student helped him to positively mend a relationship with a student.
There are other benefits to this project, as well:
- While staff are writing the cards, they speak positively about kids. We hear stories of kindness and other great things that kids have done. We hear staff members say things like, “What a great kid.” or “Wow, John is a super funny kid. I have to tell you what he said.”
- Every faculty meeting starts on a positive note (pun intended). This positive tone carries on throughout the meeting.
- It helps us set our priorities. By being the first order of business on the agenda, it places students as the primary importance.
- It is so cool to see a student open the card and read it. I have never seen one of the cards in the garbage or left in a locker.
- Some of our kids have taken upon themselves to write positive notes to other students and to their teachers.
When I tell other teachers and administrators about this project, they often say things like, “Every staff should do that.” You know what? They should and I encourage you to start doing it at your school.