Do you ever feel like you have days where you’re calling attention to anything and everything just to have something positive to say in your room? Maybe you woke up at the time you are usually leaving the house and you just don’t have it in you to deal with the tattler, the crayon their, the wiggle worm, OR the story teller today. By the end of the day, you’re a frazzled mess and the only positive you can drum up is, “Sally, I love the color of your eyes. Did you pick those out yourself?” (I mean – SERIOUSLY?)
Some days, it’s a struggle to stay “on” for your kids. That’s why I decided to start using The Shout Out Box.
At the beginning of the year, we are an exploding volcano of compliments. “WOW! I LOVE the way Suzy is walking to her chair. Ooh wow…look at the way she is sitting on her bottom!” We sugar coat everything in the first few weeks so much so that we find ourselves feeling like Violet Beauregard headed for a sugar coma.
Our honeymoon phase quickly diminishes, however, and our oohing and ahhing evolves into, “SUZY! PLEASE COME BACK AND PUSH IN YOUR CHAIR!” by week three. (Granted – those are the words that I shout in my head and it usually comes out still sugary and sealed with a plastered grin).
Over time, the kids start getting sick of our voices and our compliments can become superficial, at best. I’m sure my kids get sick of hearing my voice come Friday. I took a few moments to have a pity party about the fact that my kids don’t sit at my toes and sing with me like Snow White and her precious animals.
I suddenly realized – whose voices do they NOT get sick of? Their own. They LOVE to talk to one another. I wanted to use their voices to my advantage. And it worked.
All you need is a pencil box and strips of construction paper.
Here’s how it works:
What is it?
A box of compliments generated by the students that are shared daily. Here are some sweet ones my kids have written in the past:
- “____ said ‘excuse me’ in the hallway.”
- “____ is such a good friend. She always gives me hugs.”
- “____ worked hard on his math facts today.”
- “____ used his pictures to help him read a word at Read to Self today.”
- “____ pushed in his chair without a reminder.”
I started to see that maybe Suzy didn’t push her chair in earlier because she was helping John pick up the pencil box he spilled. Maybe Billy was talking to a neighbor because they were using an AMAZING reading strategy during Daily 5 time. You will be blown away by the compliments that stick out to your kiddos.
Introduce The Shout Out Box
I spent a lot of time discussing what a compliment is. We generated an anchor chart as a class to discuss moments that were worth “shouting out.” We also discussed moments that might not be worth shouting out. During our introduction, we also discuss topics such as:
- Where can I find the box? (I kept mine on the window sill with a stack of construction paper strips stored immediately next to it).
- Signing our name is not necessary (We want the attention to be on the person who is receiving the compliment. We don’t want to steal the spotlight by giving ourselves a pat on the back for being soooooo nice for giving a compliment. My students liked being “secret complimenters.”)
- When is it appropriate to write a note? (Can your students do it when they complete a task? Is it appropriate to do it in the middle of a read-aloud? How many people can write a shout out at once?)
Using it in the Classroom
After I feel that my students have a strong understanding of the box, I make a huge production of placing it on the window sill and make sure to share just how EXCITED I am to see what great things they do for their friends that I might not always see.
Be warned: your box will be overflowing the first few days. Despite our rule that we only have 2-3 people writing a note at one time, I was more lenient with the lines that accumulated at the window the first few days. I did not want to discourage them from finding those little nuggets of sunshine in our room.
I chose to share the shout outs daily. However, you might choose to do it weekly. Totally up to what your class needs.
My class already had a morning meeting and afternoon meeting in place. We used these times to share shout outs – sometimes one meeting or the other, sometimes both. Again, I make a huge production of bringing the pencil box to the carpet with us and I pull out the compliments, one by one. I read the compliment, usually ignoring who wrote the compliment if it happened to be signed. Remember: we want the focus to be on the student who was doing the act, not the person who noticed it. After each compliment was read, my class did one of these:
They had no idea what it was from, but I found it hysterical! 😀
The student receiving the compliment got to walk up in front of the whole class and take the compliment home. They were eating it up. Some of your friends will take these compliments to heart so much so that you’ll find them peeking out of their desk pockets and cubbies for weeks. Compliments from their peers can mean so much more than the superficial ones we often let ourselves fall into.
Take note, however, of students who might not be receiving compliments as often as others. You might need/want to write a few compliments of your own!
How do you boost class morale? Post in the comments below!
Have a great Friday!