is the one of the most valuable tools for students to succeed in school. As
teachers we are instrumental in making this happen. But how do we make it
happen? Teachers have a lot of power! Do you remember your favorite teachers?
The ones who made a difference in your life?
little things that make a BIG difference!
Start small by starting an “Awesome” Book!
lies flat when I open it. I prefer to use a one subject spiral notebook with
pocket folders, not composition, because then I can open it up and flip it
around. Label the top of each page in the notebook with the name of each
with either colorful permanent markers, stickers, or even fancy duct tape that
you know the students will recognize. Be creative and have fun to make it look
colorful and extraordinary.
and ritual to students.
Make a big deal out of it! Explain to them that you will be walking around the
classroom at different times during the day and observing them. So if they see
you carrying around this notebook or clipboard and taking notes, it’s because
you are looking for “Awesome” things to write in your notebook.
that you know that they will be doing tons of awesome things like helping out a
partner, highlighting details in an article, sharing a pencil with a student
who needs one, taking detailed notes on their sticky note during reading time,
being a good leader by handing in your homework every day, keeping a group on
task, or whatever your specific classroom expectations are.
instance, today I noticed that Meggen volunteered to read the poem to the
class. And did you notice the way she read it? She read it expression and
proper rhythm. She did an “Awesome” job of reading that poem. I was very proud
of her. How many of you noticed that after she read it to us, I jotted down a
note in my “Awesome” notebook? Here’s what I wrote down, “September 22. Meggen
volunteered to read “title of poem” aloud to the class. She read it loudly and
with lots of expression.”
will be doing with these notes of awesomeness? Call on students to hear what
they think. You might even get some new awesome ideas.
“Awesome” book & sell it to your students! I often tell the students, “I love
all your ideas and I will keep them mind for the future. But for now, here’s
what I plan to do with these notes. Inside this notebook is a page dedicated
for each of you (show them a few pages with names). At the end of each day and
week, I am going to look through my “Awesome” book and chose a few students to
recognize. I might share my observations with the class and sometimes I might
share it with your families at home. I might send home a positive (good) note
home, it looks like this. Everyone say, “Oooh! Ahhh!” Do you know how much
you’re your parents and grandparents are going to love to get these good notes
home? They will absolutely love it! Or I might even send a note to the
principal of our school, so she knows how awesome you’re doing in this class.
Who knows I might even do all these things. The most important thing is that
you continue doing awesome things all the time because you never know when or
who I am watching. But know this. . . I am watching all the time.”
it. Begin on the next lesson of the day. Take some notes in your “awesome”
notebook. Show the students the front of the notebook so they see that you’re
taking down some notes. After the lesson is over, share a note or two with the
students. It’s very important to continue practicing this everyday so it become
a routine. Pick a time that works well with your classroom schedule. Maybe
right after recess or at the end of the day. But always hold up the “awesome”
notebook many times throughout the day so they see that you’re following
through on your word and that you’re watching and taking notes. You will
probably see or hear students whisper, “Look Ms. Smart has the “awesome” book
out. Let’s do our best on this project. Maybe she’ll notice us.”
line across the page under where the notes end for each student’s name. This
makes it easier to figure out where to start the next week. It also helps you
to notice who you haven’t taken notes on recently. Then pick out a few students that you want to
recognize and write a positive (good) note home. Put a star next to those student
notes. It’ll help you remember who you’ve recognized and how many times as the
weeks fly by. Set a goal of how many students you want to recognize each day
and/or week. I announce 1 or 2 students and good deeds at the end of each day.
Weekly I send home 2-3 positive notes home at the end of the week. I set a goal
of doing this on Friday afternoons and won’t let myself leave for the weekend
until it’s finished.
is that you’re using this notebook for several purposes. First, as a way to
reinforce positive behavior and build self-esteem in each student. However, you
can make any kind of note in this notebook that also helps you because the students
will never get to read it.
ways you use it, the more valuable it becomes:
notebook is a way to record anecdotal notes such as strengths or weaknesses of
a student, what students need extra help on a specific concept or skill, or
what you need to reteach or practice more.
the back of the notebook where there’s some extra pages, I have a
“Miscellaneous” Section where I can write down notes to myself.
also becomes a classroom management tool. The more you use it the more the
students will follow your class procedures and be better behaved.
reflection notes not only about each student but also about the class as a
whole. For example, I might note that
Miguel was struggling with his multiplication facts so I need to send home some
fact cards or extra practice sheets for him.
great way to use this strategy is you could jot down behavior or social issues
that arise too. Maybe you notice that Sam and Sophia had a hard time working
together during centers today. Then you can have a talk with both them and see
how if it gets better. If not, maybe they shouldn’t be in the same group for a
- It also serves as a record for Parent Teacher
Conferences, important meetings, and report cards.
How to Hone a Soft Skill in Your Students!