Call me old-fashioned, but I still send thank-you notes—real, handwritten notes via snail mail. I know I’m not alone in feeling like the handwritten letter is a lost art. There’s something special about knowing that someone took the time to put pen to paper for you. And I think it’s extra special when that person is your teacher coming through with the kudos. As a teacher, you can really knock it out of the park by sending that positive note home so a student’s family can read it. Because if there’s one thing better than hearing you’re awesome, it’s hearing it in front of people you care about.
How do I make this work in my classroom without making more work for myself?
You don’t have to hand-stamp or Cricut your own cards (although, if that’s you, that’s awesome!). Texas teacher Elizabeth Ingram of @lonestarclassroom keeps a stack of quick feedback notes on hand so she can jot them on the go. I love this low-prep option! You can grab Elizabeth’s template here and then just print and copy on bright-colored paper.
Image source: @lonestarteacher
How do I pick which student to recognize?
You can pick anyone and anything to recognize, but make sure you spread the love! I always like to start with students who don’t typically get recognized because it shows that you care and that you notice them right from the get-go. It also builds goodwill with families, so if and when you do have to contact them with a problem, you already have some foundational trust in place.
What do I write?
It doesn’t have to be more than a sentence or two, but I think it’s best to be as specific as possible in your feedback. So less “You’re such a great kid!” and more “I see how you always invite others to join your game at recess” or “I’ve noticed how hard you’ve been working to improve your reading fluency.” I also like to use growth mindset language that focuses more on effort than ability.
What else do I need to know?
This small act has the potential to be transformational. I have former students who are now adults who still have notes I wrote them. Elizabeth shared, “This particular note made someone so proud that they taped it to their take-home folder and kept it there for the rest of the year. Don’t ever underestimate the power that our teacher words have.”