I started Student of the Day several years ago and it was an overnight success in my classroom. It was a huge game changer in my Classroom Management. It works if it is done right and I have seen it done wrong too many times.
What is Student of the Day?
Student of the Day is recognizing a single student for something outstanding that they have done. This could be something as small as sitting on the carpet nicely for 10 minutes because normally this child can’t sit any longer than 3 minutes and today she sat for 10. Maybe a child wrote an amazing paper or story, their handwriting was outstanding on their ELA paper, they moved up a reading level, they made a new friend, they chose not to argue and just did the assignment instead, they made good choices all day, I could continue to go on, but hopefully you get the point. This child made you smile today. What better way to enhance your classroom management than with positive encouragement and recognizing the good that they are doing.
It can be hard some days to pick a student, on those days I like to pick the unlikely, they will be shocked that you noticed and they are being recognized for the good decisions they made. It usually encourages them to make more of these good decisions. More good decisions = better classroom management.
Some days are easier to pick because only one student really stood out that did excellent that day.
The Musts of Student of the Day
- You must be consistent. I pick mine at the end of every day. There are days I forgot, of course and on those days, I announced it in the morning. But the preferred is at the end of the same day. That way the child goes home and announces to their family the good news. The family wants to know why and they will celebrate with them. They come to school on cloud 9 because today is their day! It is their day to be important, and they know it.
- Student of the Day must have their own area or their own special supplies. I personally do both. My classroom has tables. So this person gets their own desk. The desk is decorated special. I buy things from the Dollar Store or the Target Dollar Spot to decorate the area. They have their own smelly markers, crayons, fancy pencils, Mardi Gras necklaces, a little stuffed animal, etc. I make the area special. You want them to want to sit there, it needs to feel like a privilege. They are also the only ones that can use those supplies for the day. One year I had found Student of the Day stickers. The students loved that. These could be easily made, even just using the Avery Mailing Labels.
- They get privileges throughout the day.
- They can be Student of the Day more than one day in a row, if they deserve it.
- Really look for those students who generally misbehave or can fall behind the scenes and make it a point to find a reason they deserve the spot. I do not keep track, but I do make sure the each student gets to be it at least 2-3 times a year.
The Impact it Makes
I hadn’t realized what an impact this was until during the first year that I put this into place, I was holding Parent Conferences and multiple parents brought it up in the conferences. They mentioned how “Special” their child felt on the days they were chosen, how hard their child was working for this spot and several wanted to know how it was chosen. My answer always is: Each day is a new day, but if they show that their making better choices and trying their best to improve at behavior, reading, writing, math, etc. It shows. I believe this also builds a rapport with the students. They feel special chosen by their teacher for this spot. I love watching a student walk in that morning, they know they are special that day. The boys make a point to do their hair that day. They walk straight to the desk and make it home for a day. Their confidence is high.
What if I have a substitute?
Student of the day is the best when there is a sub. I leave it in the sub notes, the students also know that the substitute will be choosing at the end of the day. The substitutes like the carrot that they are hanging over the students.
Student of the Day Is Not
In my opinion, Student of the Day can be done incorrectly. The desire to be student of the day can lose the impact and students won’t really care or try anymore.
- Chosen by students. Students always pick based on who they like that day. It can be very unfair. They also don’t see the behind the scenes of what a teacher sees.
- Chosen for the entire week. A week is too long. It loses the fun for the other students.
- Chosen by turn. Sorry, life is not fair. Just like Employee of the Month is not chosen because it is “your turn”, it is chosen because you deserved it.