Saturday, July 10, 2010

Written Praise

A couple of weeks ago, Nathan wrote about his secret stash in his top desk drawer.

Right away I thought about advice I got from Ralph Watson, my last principal when I was teaching. I was interning to earn my principal's license so Ralph often shared with me his helpful practices. On one particularly tough day, Ralph showed me his written praise file. His was not in the top drawer, bit was otherwise exactly what Nathan wrote about. Anyway, Ralph opened the written praise file and randomly pulled out a note he had received sometime earlier. While he did not share the contents of the note with me, the smile on his face made it clear that his written praise file had done its job.

Since that time, I have become a principal with a written praise file of my own. I have needed it more often than I realized I would, and I am proud to say that it has filled up faster than I imagined it would.

One thing that Ralph didn't tell me that day, but I experienced first hand, was the power of filling up someone else's secret stash or written praise file.

As principal, I have taken to writing thank you notes or encouragement notes as often as I can. I try to write to as many different staff members as possible. For some, it is just a note; for others it is something special for the principal to thank them in writing. Whatever the case may be, it is important as the leader to put my praise in writing.

I would write this post by hand for each of my readers, but that wouldn't take too long for the three of you. Besides, this is meant to describe written praise, not be the praise.

If you are the principal, write a note to someone today. S/he may need it.