Saturday, November 19, 2011

Positive Student Recognition

In the "Weekly Update" to my staff, I recently asked teachers to send me the name of one student that deserved some positive recognition that may not otherwise receive it.  The past few years, I have found that much of an Assistant Principal's time is spent 1:1 with students that have discipline issues.  This year, I made it one of my goals to this every 9 weeks throughout the school year.

I have to give some credit to my Twitter PLN for assisting in my motivation to do this:  @justintarte, @northeagles, and especially @MrBernia: (PLN: Say one extra kind word to a student tomorrow. Record the experience at #kindword. Feel free to retweet.)

My plan was to call these students down to my office and speak to them, not only about the kind words provided by their teacher, but just to talk about things in general.  It is quite entertaining to see how nervous these students were when they enter my office.   The best part of this experience was meeting these students for this FIRST TIME (I am new to my school this year). 

I provided my top five, with info sent by the teacher (The names have been changed):

Shannon is an awesome kid.   He has an excellent grade in my class,  he's an awesome and thoughtful writer, he participates in everything we do, he helps others, and he's just the kind of young man that you can count on.  This is his first year at Ashbrook and he's a senior. That's tough all around but he has made the best of it.  While meeting with this student, he informed me that he lives completely on his own, moving from out of state because of a "difficult situation".  He lives in an apartment, maintains a part-time job, and is 100% responsible for coming to school every day.

Shannon is working very hard, completing all assignments and her behavior and focus have improved tremendously.  I called mom last week to share the good news (historically phone calls have not been very positive).  She truly cares about her grades and was thrilled to receive a 93 on her interim.  This is only her third year in U.S. schools and she has come A LONG way!!  I am very proud of her.  This is an English as a Second Language student.

Shannon has made significant strides in presenting projects to the class. He shared an amazing childhood project story about his father passing away and how it changed his personality. Since that moment, it seems to have energized him to put more input into the class and his group work. He has really impressed me.

My student is Shannon.  As you can see by his grades, Shannon struggles mightily in U. S. History; but, he works harder than almost any other student in the class.  He generally passes most tests, but only with the aid of test corrections.  Yet, I have never seen him waver in the effort he puts forth.  Last Friday Mohammad scored 80% on the World War I test.  I have never seen a student prouder of an accomplishment, and believe me, I was quick to compliment him.  I only wish some of the others in that classroom would follow his example.  This is also an ESL student.
The student I want point out is Shannon. She is in my Tech Math I/II combination class. She has been having some personal issues that have made her absent for several times this six weeks. Despite this, she has one of the higher averages in the class. This is due to her desire to succeed. When she is here, she gets to work, asks questions, and completes her assignments. She almost always turns in homework the day it is due. If she absent, she comes to me to learn what she missed and makes it up quickly. She recently even discussed with me the option of making up the absences through Saturday school. Basically, I wanted to highlight her because despite being absent, she currently has an 82 for this six weeks--all because of her drive to graduate and her commitment to the course.

I sure hope these students truly felt the appreciate that I hold for every one of them.  I can't wait to have more of these conversations throughout the year!


The opinions shared in this blog belong to Craig Smith and do not represent the school or district in which he works.


  1. Excellent post Craig, love the approach of positive reinforcement. An assistant principals office can have the reputation of a friendly place for kids. It's the person in the office that makes it a place kids don't mind visiting. You are instilling values that will make your school a better and kinder place for kids, great job!

  2. Hi Craig,

    Let me open with a sincere thank you for the mention. Frankly, being in the same sentence with administrators I admire as much as Bill and Justin is an honor.

    As for your post, I say GREAT work! The role of Assistant Principal ends up helping so many kids and families through some of the toughest periods of their lives, frankly, building relationships paves the road for us to do this critical work.

    Keep at it!

    P.S. While I do not consider myself a "hater" or a "fan" of the University of Michigan, I am a fan of college football, and thought the performance in Ann Arbor on Saturday was remarkable.