by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.
Believe it or not, one of the fondest memories of my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Krause, was forged the last day of school.
Once the school desks where pushed to the side of the room, all the supplies were put up, and the room cleaned from top to bottom, Mrs. Krause called us to the center of the room where we sat down in a large circle. She told us how much she had enjoyed the year getting to know each one of us in her classroom, then presented us each with our own individual award certificate.
Instead of a generic certificate that said something like “great job this year,” Mrs. Krause awarded each student a personalized certificate that showed specifically why that student was special to her. For example, the shyest kid in the class, who gave her a hug every morning when he walked into the classroom, received the “Best Hugger” award. She passed out a “Sleepiest” award to the child who showed up late to school most mornings because she had overslept, and she awarded the “Where Is It?” award to the child who forgot her homework and permission slips most often.
Although it didn’t take much time for Mrs. Krause to physically create each award—she used a certificate from the local teacher supply store—she did take the time to think of why each child was special, which is a great way to leave a lasting impression from the school year.
How to Create Your Own
This year, consider forming a short list of the things that make each student in your class unique, and then create a special award for each student. Four easy places to start:
2. Or open up the “certificate” setting in your Word software. Download the free printable/savable pdf of the four award stamps featured below right, to add to your awards. Click here for download: Award Stamps.
3. Or download an award from www.123certificates.com/formal.php.
4. Or use one of these great printable certificates from www.familyshoppingbag.com.
The Award I Earned
When I got home that day from school, I proudly showed my mother the certificate Mrs. Krause had given me. While my mom wasn’t thrilled that I received the “Where Is It?” award, I was touched that my teacher would turn something that could have been a frustration into something that became an endearment.
As teachers, we’re all eager to end the year with a bang, and we’re all excited (let’s admit) about the prospects of summer. But, let’s also remember that we can make a lasting impact on our students with a gesture as simple as a hand-written certificate. Decades later, I still remember fifth grade–and, yes, Mrs. Krause–fondly.