Star Students: Recognizing Hard Work, Spreading Happiness

Teaching and learning in a pandemic is difficult. We love this idea shared to us by Kory Zulauf, a High School of Business teacher at Greeley West High School, on how we can recognize each other’s hard work during a time when spreading happiness is much needed. Kory describes her idea below:

“I can’t speak for anyone else, but the transition to solely virtual, then hybrid, then solely virtual, and back to hybrid has been super rough on our students (and us as teachers).

I found myself grasping for out-of-the-box engagement strategies just to keep kids going, as well as myself. Rich and I had talked about doing something like this for a while, but this year was the year to go out on a limb and make it happen. We ordered a ton of red party stars, ribbon, and push pins. We now have ‘HSB Star Students’ hanging from our ceiling.

They can get their name on a star by doing something that we as teachers recognize, but that wasn’t enough. We have a Google form in our course shells where students have the opportunity to give shout-outs to each other for things that we can’t regularly see happening in their groups. The day I added the Google form and told them what was happening, students immediately went in to recognize a teammate! The amazing things that they are saying about each other has put a lump in my throat for the entire day. The nominations just keep pouring in. It’s clear that students are needing to spread happiness just as much as we do…and I’m brought to tears almost every time that I walk in. They have vowed that my ceiling will be covered in red stars.”