Positive Student Recognition Day – A Day to Recharge!

The team was dragging. They were irritated at each other and at students. Nothing grievous, but that low-level irritation that just doesn’t sit right.

As a Freshman Academy we put together five different meetings each week. One of those meetings is Positive Student Recognition.  It’s a day to recognize what students are doing well, who’s stepped up, and who’s contributing to the classroom or to the community in general.

So I asked this team how their Positive Student Recognition Day was going.

“We have too many students that need help. It’s just not been a priority.”

I challenged them to re-add Positive Student Recognition to their week.

They did and when they reported back the following week, they saw a difference. They had made a deliberate effort on that next Friday to only talk about the students that were doing well. It sent them into their weekend with a completely different attitude.

Spending four days a week on 20% of our students is OK as long as we are spending one day week on the 80% of students that are doing well.

Over the years teams have reported that Positive Student Recognition is the most powerful day of the week for student impact. And yet it seems to be the easiest day to toss out the window when the schedule gets tight.

This day of positivity can set the tone for a whole team if it is done well and often.

Here are some the practices that we have found helpful and impactful in running Positive Student Recognition Day.

  A Few Tools:

Circle of Courage Cards – In our building teachers write a note on the top 2/3’s of a 3×5 card and the student’s name on the bottom portion. The top portion is given to the student and the bottom portion is turned into the office for a weekly drawing for gift cards.  

Postcards – Teams use team-specific postcards, sort of like a team stationery,to write notes home. 

Email – Teachers send emails to parents commenting on positive behavior.

A Few Activities:

The most common team activity for Positive Student Recognition is bringing the student or students to the Bridge on Friday and just telling them that they are fantastic.

One team selects two students to receive a Circle of Courage each week. The following week those same two students receive a note home.

The Circle of Courage card is given to the student by a teacher that DIDN’T write the card, creating a three-point praise. The student experiences a sense that “everybody” knows the great stuff they are doing. 

Recognitions are charted in order to balance the praise that is given out.

At the beginning of second semester, one team brings the 4.0 students to the Bridge in small groups to briefly recognize a successful semester.

At our end-of-the-year gathering to recognize academic success, our school chooses the Top 10 Seniors. In response to this, some teams have started recognizing their Top 10 freshmen on their team. They bring all ten of them to our conference room toward the end of the year and recognize these students. 


Attending to success is good for us. It’s good for students, and it’s great for teachers. It charges their batteries and refreshes their perspective. Positively Student Recognition Day feels optional and yet it is essential to the success of the team. And what’s good for the team is great for students. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: