How to make someone’s day in 30 seconds: The power of positive feedback

Yesterday I spent an hour or two doing one of the more monotonous parts of my job: calling and leaving messages for students who are not doing their work and are therefore failing their classes.  This is monotonous mainly because the vast majority of phone calls I make go straight to voicemail, if they get through at all — a lot of our families use pay-as-you-go phones that get cut off frequently, or they never set up the voicemail, etc.  And even when the call does get through, it gets exhausting being the bearer of bad news over and over.

So yesterday after a few dozen of these frustrating calls, I sent out a simple email to all my students who are passing my classes — just a few words saying, hey, good job, I know it’s not easy, keep up the good work.  It made me feel a little better just delivering that positive message, but I didn’t think much of it at the time.

This morning, I opened my inbox to find a sweet message from a mom of a student who got that email from me yesterday. She said that her son responds really well to praise and she thanked me for knowing how to motivate him.  It was a simple, earnest message, and I instantly felt what I hope my students felt when they got my email yesterday: a smile came over my early-morning un-caffeinated face, and I sat up a little straighter on my exercise ball/chair as I plowed on through the rest of my inbox.

That mom’s email probably took her just 30 seconds to write, but it made my morning and set me up to have a great rest of the day.  Words truly are powerful.  This is never more true than in the online school setting where our words are all we have to make a connection with our students.

How will you make someone’s day today?

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2 thoughts on “How to make someone’s day in 30 seconds: The power of positive feedback

  1. Virtual_Momma

    I hope more of the parents do this. I send emails to my kids teachers frequently thanking them for their hard work. I know that some parents are not really doing this type of school to benefit their children and they are the ones who give the rest of us a bad name. I am sorry you were having a tough day. I hope today is better 🙂

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