Read this: Death of an awards ceremony

“If you are a person who believes school is all about grades and awards, I am afraid that you will not like the decision made by our school yesterday; if you are a person who loves the idea of the “proud parent of an honour roll student” bumper sticker, you may be frustrated by our school.

June 1, 2010 marked the end of a tradition at our school – a tradition that awarded top students not for their efforts and learning but for their grades and achievements. The staff at Kent School decided to abolish the “awards” part of the year end ceremony.

via mrwejr.edublogs.org

I was doing a bit of reading today when I stumbled across this brilliant post written by Chris Wejr, one of my favorite digital minds who happens to be a principal in Western Canada.

It’s an old article—if you can call anything written six or seven months ago old—but it resonates. You see, Chris’s school decided to completely ditch assemblies that gather large numbers of students together to see a small handful of their peers recognized for being “accomplished.”

Their argument—and it was a collective decision voted on by his entire faculty—was that we send really poor messages to kids when we celebrate the accomplishments of just a few of our students. Sure, it’s nice for the moms and dads of the “special kids,” but what kind of damage to we do to the dozens of kids who won’t ever hear their names called?

This thinking has sat in the back of my own mind for a long time.

As a middle school teacher in a relatively accomplished suburb, our Honors Assemblies are always really well attended and the pressure on students to be recognized for academic honors are always high. The hitch is that the same kids are recognized time and again—and more importantly, the same kids AREN’T recognized time and again.

That’s sad to me.

I really want to steal an idea that I heard about a long time ago but can’t find the source for today and begin “On A Roll” ceremonies that recognize every student on my team.

Any pushback?

Are there strengths in holding ceremonies that recognize the few while leaving out the many?

If not, why are they still so common in our buildings?

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