Students will reflect on their own performance and also the performance of others.
- Two notecards per student
- Writing utensils
15 minutes, once a month (or whatever frequency you feel is appropriate)
Frequently, students do not take the time to recognize their accomplishments or enjoy the small moments that lead to them finding success. The idea behind the notecards is to take some time out of the students’ busy schedules and make them think about what they and others have achieved, and recognize others who are doing great work, going beyond what is needed. Having students take that time to reflect and congratulate themselves and others on good work—and also thanking someone else who helped them—creates more of a family environment within the group.
Design two different notecards, one for the student to recognize themselves and another notecard that they will give to someone else as a thank-you for their help within the last month. As students come in for a meeting, have them pick up one of each type of card. Give them 10–15 minutes to think about what to write and fill out the cards. The students do not need to share what they wrote on the notecards, but they do need to give the card to the student/teacher/person they are thanking (either at the end of the meeting or as soon as they are able).
This simple task encourages students to write something without the aid of their phones or computers; plus, for themselves, they can retain a physical copy of what they wrote. They can keep the cards as a memento of what they have accomplished, which may motivate them to keep up the good work. The cards may also help students get through difficult days that they face.
The thank-you card not only allows students to share their gratitude with others, but also gives others the chance to share in their accomplishments. In turn, giving out the cards helps to drive support for the club and future projects and activities, because more people become connected and share in the success.
It’s important to note that the recipient of the second card does not have to be someone within the school. My group does an annual toy drive with the local fire department, and the firefighters are always touched to receive a thank-you from students for putting on the toy drive. This has turned the annual event into our main project each year with all members being excited and motivated to make it bigger and better.
By having students take time to reflect on their work and the work of others, it allows them to recognize that good leaders should take time out of their schedules to acknowledge what everyone—themselves and those with whom they work—have accomplished. This activity leads students to realize that others took note of their extra effort or their impressive work and wanted to let them know. These cards can also be used to identify a top member of the month or “most valuable student” for each service project that gets completed.
Christopher Estock is a National Honor Society adviser at Golden Gate High School in Naples, FL.