This Calls for a Celebration

By John Pearl, IPLI Mentor and Principal at Battle Ground Elementary

Administrators and teachers are constantly seeking new and creative ways to motivate students to meet academic and behavioral goals. Conversely, it’s a challenge to provide meaningful, cost-effective celebrations to acknowledge student success.  At Battle Ground Elementary/Intermediate, the teacher school leadership team understands the importance of building positive relationships with students and their families AND the importance of celebrating student success.  This dynamic team has implemented a strategy to combine meaningful relationship building with celebrations.

Like many schools, BGE/BGI students participate in STAR reading assessments, and teachers employ the Accelerated Reading program as one component of daily instruction. Students earn AR points as they read and pass comprehension quizzes.  Students are recognized on the school’s video announcements as they earn membership in “AR Points Clubs.”  Readers become club members after earning 50 AR points and are featured again on the announcements each time they add 50 points to their annual total.  Club rosters are posted in the main vestibules and students move their club card from club to club as they continue to excel.  Students are often giddy as they approach the camera to inform the school of their success, however, school-wide recognition is just the beginning of our system to celebrate student success.

Each AR point a student earns is converted to a “Tomabuck,” our school currency.  Students earning twenty-five Tomabucks are now ready to purchase a 30-minute group session from our ever changing Teacher Talent menu. Teacher Talent Time, scheduled twice quarterly, allows volunteers (including administrators, teachers, cafe workers, para-educators, and other staff members) an opportunity to spend time celebrating student success while sharing their individual talents.  A sampling of some of the offerings (vary each time depending on the volunteers) can be seen below:

  • Floor Hockey with Mr. B
  • Cookies with Mrs. H
  • Watercolor Painting with Mrs. F
  • Your Own Sundaes with Mrs. E
  • Computer Coding with Mrs. D
  • Learn to Fish with Mr. L
  • 3D Origami with Mrs. H
  • Manicures with Mrs. AH
  • Shooting Hoops with Mr. R
  • Making Jewelry with Mrs. AN
  • Kickball with Mrs. C
  • Flower Pens with Mrs. G
  • Video Announcements co-host with Mr. P
  • Baseball with Ms. S

During the last round of Teacher Talent Time at BGE/BGI, 166 students spent a total of $4140 (Tomabuck money) to celebrate with over 20 staff members.  This low-cost, highly-motivating strategy has quickly become something that students, staff members, and families cannot imagine living without.  Looking for meaningful, relationship building techniques? Try your own version of Teacher Talent Time!