One of the things I feel that I don't take enough time to do is show my appreciation for all of my students and recognize their efforts throughout the year. I find that I spend far more time focusing only on my struggling students rather than recognizing each student's individual journey, success, and growth. This holiday season, I am making it a priority to let my students know that I appreciate them by using some new strategies for student feedback. Here are FIVE WAYS to show your students you care this holiday season!
1. Write a message on their desks!
To do this, simply use a dry erase marker, chalk paint marker, or any other erasable ink pen to write each student a brief message that is sure to surprise them! In the secondary classroom, this could definitely be difficult to accomplish since we have a different set of students each period of the day. However, you might be able to do this for your first period class of the day or even your class period after lunch. That will give you some time to go around the room and write the messages. Students can get out their phones to take a picture of your message and then wipe the desk clean for the next class period. Students will really feel appreciated by your thoughtfulness!
2. Holiday Greeting Cards for Students
We spend so much time mailing holiday cards to family and friends, but how about giving your students greeting cards as well? You could either make these cards using construction paper or cardstock, or simply purchase them. In the past, I've made cards using Microsoft PowerPoint and then typed in personalized messages for my students. That way, I could print them out, fold, and give them to students as they came into class. It does take a bit of time, but showing students that kind of attention will show them that you care and motivate them to work harder. When our students know we care, they typically want to please us in return. A little note goes a long way. Another way to do this using email is to send students free greeting cards through 123greetings.com. You can take your time to send out a few at a time throughout the month of December, and students will receive a special greeting card in their inboxes from you!
3. Christmas Tree of Thanks
This is a Christmas version of the Thanksgiving Tree of Thanks-- but with a twist. Many teachers like to create a class Christmas tree for the holidays, and you can use this tree to show appreciate and thankfulness for your students. Create simple paper ornaments (circles work best), and on one side write a student's name and on the other side, write one or two words that describe what you appreciate about that student. For example, on one side write "Michael" and on the other write "quality essays" + "honesty." Students can take time looking for their ornaments on the tree and reading about the qualities you appreciate in them.
4. Motivational Quotes
For this one, you can select a motivational quote for each student to encourage them to work hard and shoot for the stars. You can print out these quotations and give one to each student to show them that you care. This strategy is easy to implement for secondary teachers because you can take a preselected list of quotes and give a different one to each student. You can find lots of motivational quotes online like this one from Success.com! Students can keep these quotations in their writing folders or writer's notebooks to refer back to for motivation all year long!
5. Surprise Email
Send your students each a surprise email on special holiday letterhead to thank them for their hard work over the semester. By sending emails, you can make a schedule to send out a few at a time over the course of a month so that you are able to save time while also making your students feel appreciated. Write a few sentences to express your appreciation for their effort and also your excitement about working with them in the upcoming semester. Students are sure to treasure your email in the years to come.
How do you show your students you care? Leave us a comment below. We'd love to hear from YOU!
About the Author
Meredith is the founder and creator of TeachWriting.org and Bespoke ELA. She has taught high school English for 10+ years in Dallas, Chicago, and New York City and holds a M.A. in Literature from Northwestern University. She has always had a connection to the written word-- through songwriting, screenplay writing, and essay writing-- and she enjoys the process of teaching students how to express their ideas. Meredith enjoys life with her husband, daughter, and sweet pups.