Feedback is a Gift. Thank You! (and you’re welcome;o))

7 Jan

I am betting that I’ll write on variations of this topic over and over again but today I just want to say “Thank you”…”and you’re welcome!”

Like so many of you, I have recently stumbled upon the most amazing professional resource I’ve ever found. Actually, it’s a series of resources that seems to continually expand – ripple, domino, pick your own cliche’ but this thing has got legs! I’m sure some of you have guessed that I’m talking about Twitter, #edchat, Tom Whitby’s The Educator’s PLN and the never-ending extensions that seem to be sprouting from each of them everyday.

Here’s an example. Recently, @ShellTerrell, who is a true phenomena in my book, (but that’s another entry), sent a tweet asking all new bloggers to retweet and give their web address with the hashtag #edchat. I complied, not knowing why, because… well, it was Shelly and in a few short weeks of following her on Twitter, I’ve learned that she is constantly up to something good.

Shortly thereafter, I got a message from @cybraryman1 who is truly a super hero with a link saying he had put my blog on his blog‘s page for parents. WOW. Amazing. He had ME feeling a little like a superhero too! But that’s not all.

You see, Shelly has been issuing challenges for educators through her tweets and blog, Teacher Reboot Camp, and it seems that one of the challenges was to support a new blogger. She listed my site, along with those of all of the others who answered her call and that leads me to Marti and Wildcat Teacher.

But first things first. I could see from my stats that loads of people visited from Cybraryman‘s and Shelly‘s sites and that was really exciting and motivating. But a couple of people actually posted comments, and Oh-my-GOODNESS what fun! After reading Wildcat Teacher’s post I was all kinds of jazzed and motivated to finish several of the half-finished pieces I’ve been not working on… and then I read Marti’s comment.

Marti posted on my piece about “Teaching Gratitude” and shared that it had prompted her to take an activity that she uses in the classroom home to her own kids. She called it a “Rubbing It In” board and it’s a great idea that reminded me of  and prompted me to share one of my favorite strategies for teaching gratitude with you. You will find instructions at the end of this article. It will work like a charm, and you’ll love it – I promise.

But before I started writing about that, I did one more thing – I followed the link to Marti’s blog. You should follow it too: The Techno Tiger. Her “Goal #4, Starting a Blog” is not only fantastic, but it is what inspired me to write down what I’ve been thinking – about how reciprocal this whole process is – the tweeting, and chatting, the blogging, and reading, the thinking. commenting, sharing, acting on it all and passing it on to our students. WOW.

I’m feeling pretty fortunate and… grateful right now,  and so to Marti, Wildcat Teacher, Kim,  Shelly, Cybraryman, Tom Whitby, and all of the other PLN-ed-chattering-tweet-and-blogging-educational-inspirations out there – you’ve got my mind spinning, I’m stretching and growing more than I have in ages (and I already stretch and grow more often than the average bear!), and it is all just so exciting and SO MUCH FUN! So thank you, thank you so very much.

And… you’re welcome too. Because I’m going to do my very best to contribute and give back in every way that I can. You can thank me later. ;o)

The “Above and Beyond” (Or “Rub It In”) Board

To quote Marti, “If receiving comments on my blog inspires me, as an adult, to continue to write, what might it do for our students?” Feedback is a gift, online and in life. Giving that gift consciously can inspire our students’ interest and willingness to engage in all kinds of positive things.

The “Above and Beyond” board is about consciously, deliberately, strategically providing both a model and a way for students to experience being both giver and recipient of positive feedback. If you use this technique, students will appreciate and remember you for it. More importantly, it  will  help them become more conscious, more grateful, and sometimes, even more gracious human beings.

Here’s how it works:

  1. I write the student’s name in big bright letters on index cards, and write what they did in smaller letters underneath.
  2. I stack and tack or staple the cards on top of each other by name. When students come in the room, the 1st thing they do is check those cards… and my students are 16-24 years old!
  3. At the end of the month or workshop (depending on the format), I take all of the cards down and use them as raffle tickets – so the more good deeds, the more chances a student has to win.
  4. Students can also earn raffle chances by writing cards for their peers; a card written by a student is a chance for both the writer and the student being commended to win.
  5. After the raffle, the students get to keep their cards and we start all over again.

A few notes on implementation:

  1. I don’t announce or explain the board- I just start doing it. I post the words “Above and Beyond” and start putting up cards. This leads to questions and the students always notice and get drawn in. This sneaky technique also eliminates the possibility of “we’re-too-cool-for-this” sabotage. Teeth are not sucked and eyes are not rolled. There are no moans, groans or disparaging comments to discourage students from going “above and beyond”. The board simply appears and then “is”.
  2. I leave extra cards and markers right by the board and every single time I’ve done this, students have asked if they can write cards to each other too. You know your students – always provide guidelines; set limits and screen the cards if you have to… it won’t usually be necessary but better safe than sorry. Writing cards catches on and goes viral in no time.
  3. The stacking is intentional, for a number of reasons. Stacking is an essential move in this strategy. Do not worry about the board looking bare for a day or two; I promise it will fill up quickly and that is part of the fun. Stacking ensures there is enough space for everyone’s name (and you will need to find at least one positive thing to say about each student).
  4. Stacking also increases the interactivity of the board. Students will physically go up, flip through their pile and put it back where they found it, usually at least once a day.
  5. They won’t be able to resist finding out what their cards say, and will be forced to go the board to find out. This makes it cool to care and be proud of receiving positive recognition.
  6. Stacking also allows students who are shy about giving each other feedback to do so comfortably by inserting their cards into the stack.
  7. document.write(‘TwitThis‘);


9 Responses to “Feedback is a Gift. Thank You! (and you’re welcome;o))”

  1. Jo Fothergill January 7, 2010 at 9:34 am #

    Thank you for this idea … it’s just what I need for my new class this year and follows on what I discovered last year with my Year 3&4 (Grade 2&3) children – that gaining recognition for doing something “above and beyond” (the same phrase I used) was worth more to them than recognition for “being good”.

    • thenewtag January 8, 2010 at 3:41 am #

      Jo, Thanks so much for your comment. Notes like yours push me to dig a little deeper every day. I’d LOVE to hear how this works out for you. I’m sure you’ll have a blast with this- I always do. The second I finish typing this, I’m going to your page as well. Thanks again!

  2. Shelly Terrell January 7, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    Love the Above and Beyond Board! Sounds like a wonderful way to motivate students to continue doing positive work and supporting each other.

    • thenewtag January 8, 2010 at 3:39 am #

      Shelly, thanks so much for all you do. I know you must be absolutely inundated and have no idea how you manage it all, but WOW, what an impact you are having. You are truly a marvel and I am both humbled and inspired. Thanks again.

  3. Marti Sides January 8, 2010 at 1:27 am #

    Hmmmm….might just be what I need for cafeteria duty. Seriously….
    We currently use tickets for being “good,” but maybe I need to step it up a bit. I think I might just try it! Will let you know how it goes.

    • thenewtag January 8, 2010 at 3:36 am #

      What fun! Can’t wait to hear how it goes! I’m reading your stuff every day now and so appreciate it. You have so much to offer- thanks Marti!

  4. ktenkely February 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm #

    What a fantastic idea! I can’t wait to try out the above and beyond board in my classroom.
    A good PLN is worth its weight in gold (and maybe even more than that!). I am honored to have you as a part of my PLN and look forward to more conversations. (I have just added your blog to the iLearn Technology blogging alliance, a post about the alliance today and emails to follow).


  1. Resources for Improving Classroom Management and School Culture « The New Tag; A Blog by Melissa C. Tran - May 23, 2010

    […] Feedback is a Gift. Thank You! (and you’re welcome;o)) […]

  2. Resources for New Teachers…and the rest of us. « - September 20, 2010

    […] Feedback is a Gift. Thank You! (and you’re welcome;o)) […]

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