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In Friday’s blog about Ms. Carlsen’s “Positive Post-Its” we highlighted reward and recognition in action at Putnam Heights Academy an elementary school in Oklahoma City Public Schools. Reward and recognition is a feedback process; for teachers, a quality feedback process is as much about students reflecting on information as it is about students receiving it. The same holds for leaders. As teachers and leaders we constantly create ways to recognition high performance. Recognition as feedback can be applied by the leader, by the teacher, by student peers.

Consider institutionalizing WOWMANIA!

Give a completed WOW Card to three teachers identifying very specifically something they did well. Give them three WOW Cards to complete about their students. Ask them to complete the three WOW Cards on students in their classrooms and present cards to the students. Then ask them to ask the students to give a completed WOW Card to one of their peers. This is called WOWMANIA!! (How to Lead Teachers to Become Great, pp. 113 – 118)

What it means for teachers:

Everyone likes to be recognized and rewarded when they do something good. And when our actions are rewarded, we repeat them. In performance-driven classrooms, students focus on hitting learning targets with measures. This approach to learning is very different from the “Get rewarded with a good grade” system that occurs in compliance-driven classrooms.

One big advantage of performance-driven classrooms is that teachers have many opportunities to recognize the successes of students and in turn encourage them to repeat those successes and behaviors. Great teachers want to openly recognize what students are doing to move closer to achieving the learning targets. Recognizing and rewarding good work along the way motivates students to keep practicing until they reach the final goal.

Harvesting student wins requires that teachers put a plan into action and that they remember two things: (1) Recognized behavior gets repeated, and (2) It takes three compliments to one criticism to get positive results (see Rath, 2004). Harvesting student wins is an essential tactic for teachers because it helps them keep the “learning flywheel” moving for every student. WOWMANIA! is one action that can help teachers begin  harvesting wins.



Pilcher, J. and Largue, R. (2009). How to Lead Teachers to Become Great: It’s All About Student Learning. Gulf Breeze, FL: Fire Starter Publishing.

Rath, T. (2004). The best ways to recognize employees. Gallup Management Journal.

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