Saturday, 16 March 2013

Spreading Some Love

Once upon a time, my dear friend Becky tweeted a message to her lovely vice principal:
The video included in her tweet is below if you can't see it embedded above:


I showed the video to my grade 6/7 class at Webster's Corners Elementary and they LOVED it.  Then, we began discussing the question, "What would this look like in an elementary school?"  Most of the students at our K-7 school do not use social media so the class decided that a bulletin board in the hallway would be best.  After some discussion, the class decided to begin an "Anonymous, Sincere Compliments Board" in the school.  Our fabulous principal cleared off a board near the front door so that we could fill it with compliments and all students could see the board regularly.

A group of students visited the other eight classes in our small school to explain the concept.  They encouraged students to add "because" to their compliments in order to make them more meaningful.  Then, classrooms were equipped with envelopes and strips of paper:


And this is a sample of what followed:





I shouldn't have been surprised that this was a popular concept but, in some ways, I was!  It was amazing to see how quickly students were willing to compliment one another in this format.  It was also encouraging to observe the improved quality and quantity of the compliments as weeks passed.

Becky, who tweeted the video originally, and I are part of a teacher inquiry group in our district.  Our group is focusing on community building so, of course, I had to brag about this project at our meeting in January.  She sent me back to the school with a lovely compliment for "Division 2.0" which I forgot to photograph but will post here after Spring Break.

After a few weeks of compliment board fun, we decided to make the compliments paper a little fancier:


Intermediate Compliments Board Paper (PDF download)
Primary Compliments Board Paper (PDF download)

And we experimented with different lettering in art class while adding some inspirational artwork around the board:

The Compliments Board, which started in January, was still going strong when we left for Spring Break!  I knew that the kids are really enjoying it and my students look forward to collecting and posting the compliments each week.  It's fantastic to see how, even if their names aren't mentioned, the students get excited about posting and reading the compliments that other students receive.

Now that use of the board has taken off, we also have an online form which is linked on the school website for students to submit compliments online.  Those compliments will be printed and pasted on the board.

My students are really excited about this project and some mentioned that they want to make sure that others will carry it on when they move on to high school.  A student then commented that it would be neat for them to bring this tradition to their high school.  I am happy to see that a positive Twitter feed is being run by students at Garibaldi Secondary, where most of my Grade 7 students will be heading in the fall.  Have a look at what they're doing, here!

The week before Spring Break was extremely long and exhausting in my world and, on Wednesday, I saw my name on the board, as well!  Now I know firsthand that this really can make a person's day!  (Thanks to the student who posted it, whoever you are!)

Overall, I can't believe how quickly the year is going!  The transition to teaching elementary school has been fantastic!  I haven't had time to blog in a while and am hoping to get back into it in the months ahead.  I'm excited about sharing our Identity Day adventures, next!