As I have shared before in this blog, I am not a big fan of award programs in schools. We should be caring and loving of our students every moment we can and instill a love of learning, not a love of “getting stuff”. We want our students to be good citizens because they know it is right, not because they will get recognized at an assembly if they do. In the real world, there are no awards for kindness; it is just right.
With that being said, I have seen many schools that have “Student of the Week” programs that award students for different items (citizenship, academics, etc.). I do not know of any student of the week program though that gives an award consistently to the same student. If you are giving awards based on academics, in many schools, the same student in a class would get the award every week. Often they are meant to celebrate many (and often all) students so that they all have a chance of some recognition. The idea behind this is very noble, but what if it was tweaked a bit?
Let’s say that if you currently have one of these programs, that students know ahead of time when it is their week. Instead of them getting an award, why not have them tell their story their week and share who they are with the class? For example, when I used to teach grade four, our students would talk about things such as their family, things that they loved, and other interests in their life. We did not necessarily state exactly what the students had to share,but gave them options or cues because it was their moment to shine and celebrate what they were proud of. Students would be so proud of the work that they did to share in different ways (visuals writing, artwork) who they were and what they loved. This would also be a great way to create a connection between school and home, having parents work with their child on what makes them unique and helping them find their strengths.
Through this idea, the student is still having a moment, but it is something that they are creating and getting the opportunity to share with the world. It is also giving them the chance to learn about themselves and find out who they really are. While having the student share what they love, you also get to know them, which obviously would create a better relationship with the student.
If the student is really to be focus of that “moment”, why not create an opportunity where they have ownership over it. This becomes a micro version of “Identity Day” for each child. Some kids might be reluctant to share, but that is also a great opportunity for a teacher to work with that student and build some confidence, as well as rapport.
I really believe that we still have the ability to recognize the student (which is the initial intent of the “Student of the Week” program right?) but we are now giving them a chance to be empowered over an individualized and personal learning experience. If it is their moment, why not take the opportunity to have the class, teacher, and individual student learn from it?