Back in September we were having a lot of discipline issues. And through all of those discipline issues we noticed almost all of our daily focus was on the students who were making poor decisions. We had begun to completely ignore those who were making great decisions.
Now, I’m not a believer in a reward system for kids. I don’t think kids should be sent to the office to get a pencil, sticker, or some other tangible thing for making good choices. I think if we want people to make great choices, there has to be an emotional piece included, not just a physical piece.
So I had an idea. I had bought these “Hats Off” cards at a teacher supply store over the summer and I made sheets of them, and gave them to teachers. Every week teachers got 8 Hats Off cards to give to kids.
When a student received a card, they’d get to come to the office, and one of the administrators would get to call home and celebrate that student. It was a powerful movement that really helped change a lot of focus and discipline on our campus.
But then I got to thinking…..as educators, and especially leaders, we do these great ideas for kids, but for whatever reason we act like we can’t do them with adults.
So this week I’ve started giving “Hats Off” cards to our staff members as well. Yesterday was the first one. I had seen one teacher do an excellent job in an ARD and keep things really positive, I’d seen another transform her learning space into a space ready for a writing workshop, and I had another use technology in a new way and really push himself to try something new.
So I told them I needed to see them briefly during their conference. When they met with me, I gave them their card. They smiled. They said thank you…..and then the big part….I asked, “who do you want me to call and celebrate you?”. They were shocked. They all asked if I was serious.
Of course I was serious! This is the same process we go through with the kids, why couldn’t I go through it with the adults. All three of them chose their moms and off to the phone we went.
I put it on speaker phone and called each of their parents and spoke just like I did with the kids…it went something like this…
“Hi, Mr./Mrs. _____? This is Todd Nesloney. I’m the principal at Webb Elementary in Navasota, Tx. Is _________ your child? Well I have them up here in my office, but don’t worry it’s for good reasons! They have been doing _____________ and I just wanted to call home and celebrate them and let you know how much we enjoy having them here”
There was laughter, there were a couple of tears, but most of all there was joy. It was so fun!
I knew if I was challenging my teachers to give out Hats Off cards to kids, why couldn’t I give them to teachers and challenge myself too??
We’ve only just begun, but I can’t wait to continue doing this throughout the year! My challenge is for all of you…if you’re a teacher, find ways to call each student’s family this week and celebrate them WITH the principal present. If you’re an administrator, call home to staff member’s family and celebrate them like they were little kids! It’s oh so easy!
Here’s a Periscope I did last night to talk through it as well!