Usually, during my lunchtime, I am either with students in my classroom (our cafeteria isn’t large enough to accommodate all our students at lunch time) or am meeting with colleagues. However, one day a week during lunch I do my favorite activity of the school week.
I walk around campus spotting students — either ones I have now or have had in the past — and they are usually with some of their friends. I go up to the group, point out that student, and say something like, “Did you know that there is no harder worker in my class than _______?” or “Did you know that there are few other students who help their classmates more than _______?” or some other comment singling out that particular student for something that they do especially well.
Those students, though they may feign embarrassment, love it.
In fact, it’s not unusual that one of their friends — who I don’t know — will say, “What about me?” I quickly respond, “If you were in my class, I’m sure I could say the same thing about you.”
I have, and continue to have, many students who face lots of challenges, and it’s safe to say that many don’t get the kind of positive feedback they deserve.
A little public acknowledgment can go a long way.
(A quick aside: Before I learned about the importance of a growth mindset, I used to go around saying “Did you know that __________ is a star?” That got an equally pleased response, but clearly targeted reinforcement of a particular behavior is the better way to go)