Faith that Works

Teaching middle schoolers how to live and practice their faith

Celebrating your students is one of the easiest days to plan, in my experience. This theme falls on Tuesday of Catholic Schools Week, and is a day to recognize all the ways that our students make Catholic Schools great. Here are five easy ways to celebrate your students and make them feel loved and appreciated.

1. Free Dress
Because our school has a uniform in the elementary school and a dress code in the middle school, any day the students get to be out of uniform feels pretty special. Some of the free dress days follow a theme, like Christmas or the theme of the day for Catholic Schools Week, but for this day we often let the students wear pajamas or sweats, or something that make them feel comfortable and appreciated.

2. Why I love my class
Write a list of the reasons why you love your class. Post this obviously in the front of the room where students will immediately see it upon entering the room. Or you could do this individually- write a reason you appreciate each student in your class and put it on their locker or desk.

3. Plan an inter-class activity
Our school has an amazing “peace partner” program that I have mentioned on the blog before. Each class has a partner class- for example, my 7th graders are paired with 3rd graders, and my 8th graders with Pre-K students. Each student has an individual peace partner for the whole year, and we get together about once a month to do an activity- often religiously based. During Catholic Schools Week, you could match up different grades for a fun activity- like eating lunch together, playing games or creating a craft.

4. Recognize alumni
In the hallway outside our main office, the office manager keeps a huge bulletin board with pictures from school events and any newspaper article featuring current or former students. I love passing this bulletin board in the hallway and seeing what my former students are accomplishing. I think it also is a great example for our current students. If your school doesn’t have a similar display, maybe you could start one. If you have something similar, maybe you could expand the students featured by adding interviews your students conduct with alumni etc. It would make a great writing assignment to have your current students interview alumni and write small features on them to display.

5. Display student work in halls and classrooms
Of course, many schools and teachers already do this, but maybe you could up your game on displays of student work by putting notes on the work showing why that student is or should be proud of their work. Students could write their own, or you could note things like: incredible details and neatness, or impressive knowledge of the faith! I am going to do this using comic book style “pow” signs this Catholic Schools Week and specifically point out how the student work exemplifies our school values of love, respect, responsibility, faithfulness and excellence.

These are just a few ways to celebrate your students. Let me know if you try something and how it works in your setting, or add your own great ideas in the comments!

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