This winter focus on giving and receiving compliments. Genuine compliments can be a great way to build a positive classroom culture. When students learn how to give and accept compliments, they are also building empathy. Teaching compliments is an easy way to build a positive community.
Start by defining what a compliment is.
A compliment is something nice we say to someone else.
Try to steer students away from compliments about physical appearance and give them some guidelines so they can check theirs. I like them to check that their compliments are true, specific, and positive.
Try these activities to help students give better compliments:
Often students struggle to accept compliments. I know that I do too! We often deflect compliments,
Oh, it was nothing.
or reject reject compliments.
You should get your eyes checked if you think my project is good.
It can help students to know these are common responses. Compliments can make us feel awkward. We can struggle to believe the compliment is true. When a student doesn't accept a compliment, teach students to call each other out by saying "Accept, don't deflect or reject". 🙂
Have students reflect on how it feels when someone deflects or rejects your compliment. This can really help students see the importance of accepting compliments.
To learn how to accept compliments, I have students:
I love this activity in the winter! Students get a set of mittens and write a compliment to another student on it. You can then create a simple bulletin board with all the complimittens the students created.
Students sit on the floor in a circle with their legs outstretched. Students take a turn giving a compliment to someone else in the circle. When a student receives a compliment they sit criss-cross. This continues until all students have received a compliment. It is a great way to end morning meeting or an end of the day meeting.
Students sit or stand in a circle. One student starts with a ball of string. They choose someone across the circle from them and give them a compliment. They pass the ball of string to that person, holding on to the end of the string. The next student does the same, but this time holds onto the string while unraveling enough to reach the next student. It may be helpful for the teacher to help with passing the string and improving compliments to match instruction.
Laura is a former school psychologist passionately trying to bring social-emotional learning to every student at every tier. Click here for hands-on resources for the classroom and counseling.
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