Written Praise

A couple of weeks ago, Nathan wrote about his secret stash in his top desk drawer. http://nextgeneduleaders.blogspot.com/2010/06/secret-stash-in-top-desk-drawer.html

Right away I thought about advice I got from Ralph Watson, my last principal when I was teaching. I was interning to earn my principal’s license so Ralph often shared with me his helpful practices. On one particularly tough day, Ralph showed me his written praise file. His was not in the top drawer, bit was otherwise exactly what Nathan wrote about. Anyway, Ralph opened the written praise file and randomly pulled out a note he had received sometime earlier. While he did not share the contents of the note with me, the smile on his face made it clear that his written praise file had done its job.

Since that time, I have become a principal with a written praise file of my own. I have needed it more often than I realized I would, and I am proud to say that it has filled up faster than I imagined it would.

One thing that Ralph didn’t tell me that day, but I experienced first hand, was the power of filling up someone else’s secret stash or written praise file.

As principal, I have taken to writing thank you notes or encouragement notes as often as I can. I try to write to as many different staff members as possible. For some, it is just a note; for others it is something special for the principal to thank them in writing. Whatever the case may be, it is important as the leader to put my praise in writing.

I would write this post by hand for each of my readers, but that wouldn’t take too long for the three of you. Besides, this is meant to describe written praise, not be the praise.

If you are the principal, write a note to someone today. S/he may need it.

(Previously posted at The Principal’s Point of View)

To think about: Is there a difference between handwritten notes and emails?


  1. Pam Franklin said:

    I have saved every positive note a student, parent, or administrator has given me. On days when I feel like a total loser, I get them out and reread them. It truly helps!!

    August 12, 2010
    • Pam,

      I am sure it is a large file 🙂 I hope you don’t have to use it too often.

      There have been times that I have forgotten about my Written Praise file and then found it on a bad day. What a great surprise.


      August 12, 2010
  2. Dave Bircher said:

    Those notes must be kept as remoinders of the good work you do. If your are like me, my Persoanl file is so full with stuff, that these notes won’t fit.

    Thx. for the drawer idea. I have one I can now put to better use.


    August 12, 2010
    • Dave,

      Here’s hoping you’ll need a filing cabinet someday.

      August 12, 2010

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