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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Good News from FM High School

Realizing that "make positive phone calls home" and "reinforce positive behavior" are on every teacher's to-do list, and that some of you regularly do these things, and that I'm not patting myself on the back too much because many of you are more virtuous than I...

But also recognizing that these behaviors being on my good intentions slash nice if I have time list and being on my checked-off list are two different things...

And also not judging myself too harshly for six years of failures in virtuosity...

I'm happy to report that the school providing me with a fresh, stiff pack of yellow postcards that have address blocks on one side and "Good News from FM High School..." on the other side has prompted me to send at least three of these every Friday afternoon to children's homes for...

acknowledging determination to not drop out of a class that is a challenge for them
or he is a cool kid and he volunteered to partner with the kid everyone thinks is a little weird
or because she had a rough start this year but she is killing it this quarter
or something I halfway made up but I know they have been having conflict with their parents and could use a boost

has been, I wouldn't call it transformative, and I may be imagining it, but I have noticed an additional warm fuzziness, a we're all in this together, a patience in my room with each other and with me...

and I'm going to keep doing the postcards.


  1. I absolutely LOVE this idea. I've never been a fan of talking on the phone, so I'm a huge fan of the postcards. Plus, everybody loves to get mail (especially when the mail is something other than a bill).

  2. Any chance of a scan or picture? This sounds like a much better idea than a formal looking letter.

  3. I ***LOVE*** this idea. Love it, love it, love it.

    Our parents are VERY tech-centric, so I try to send about three of these good news e-mails a week. It makes a HUGE difference. Glad to hear it is working for you, and I'm going to steal some of your great ideas for positive feedback.

    - Elizabeth (aka @cheesemonkeysf on Twitter)

  4. Hey Simon - It's just cardstock cut down to about 4"x6". On one side at the top is printed "Good News from FM High School..." and on the other side you write their address and put a stamp.

  5. Hehe, I imagine the reaction from some parents is skipping the Good News part and eying in directly on FM High School. Then with their blood pressure about to go through the roof, they go "Wait, what? Good News?"

  6. I feel worn down for periods of time as well. A lot of the external factors suck - dealing with the Orwellian education culture. The internal factors suck at times as well. But then something happens to bring me back - letter from a former student, a class that has been dragging all of a sudden, for no apparent reason, now has eneregy, etc, etc.

    I hope you stick with it. One good, intelligent, thoughfull teacher that is willing to share makes a difference. Even for someone like Dan Meyer, you can see how his ideas and tone is now missing the harsh editor that is a classroom full of students. Your thoughts & ideas have a much different flavor, more practical, and more humility, than those from consultants or others that are no longer in the classroom. It is generous of you to share with us.

  7. I use a postcard sale last year to get some printed up with my name and school and I do the same thing every Friday. It's a nice way to end the week. Though I ran out of stamps last month and haven't written any in a while because of that...

    What I find interesting is that the kids will often say nothing about the post cards, but then when I see parents they'll tell me how much the kiddo liked getting one.

    For anyone thinking of doing this, keep track of who you send cards to and why! I didn't do that last year and I ended up worrying about sending too many to one student with similar language.

  8. What a fabulous idea! I can't wait to get back into a classroom to try this.


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