Did Anyone Tell You That You're Awesome Today?

End of year assemblies and staff  farewells in schools are often emotional gatherings. Every June, a class of Grade 7's and a number of staff members leave. These leave-takings are ritual celebrations of passage where sometimes we develop a new appreciation of others. In the daily grind, we are often too busy to notice the details of interactions.

One younger male colleague used to ask on a regular basis, "Did anyone tell you that you're awesome today?" I've heard him say it to students and to colleagues. Awesome is probably not a word that I would use often but I am impressed by the power of his support.

Academic or athletic abilities are often recognized in schools. Social popularity is it's own reward during school days.  But what about those students who show up most days and who perhaps will never earn any sort of distinction? Some days, they need someone to say "you're awesome."

Praise can be a double-edged sword. Insincere or manipulative praise can be harmful, creating more insecurity in the recipient. But what Mr. X is doing is acknowledgement. He is stating that he sees you and leaving it up to you to think of something awesome that you did today. It might be that you came to school instead of skipping out, it might be that you avoided a fight at recess.

Older adults may have grown up in households where praise was given sparingly. Humility and self-deprecation were considered desirable. It is interesting to notice how uncomfortable some people are with any acknowledgement.  To recognize our strengths, to accept feedback (positive or negative) and to be able to give encouragement appropriately are important social/emotional competencies.

As adults, we all need someone to notice us. It's a "good morning," "nice scarf," "I really enjoyed the book you read/the music you played/the dinner you cooked." It is so important to learn and to use people's names.

I was impressed by my colleague's positive attitude to both kids and adults. He is showing care for others and modelling positive social interaction.

Did anyone tell you that you're awesome today? If not, what did you do today that made you feel satisfied? How do you feel about recognition? Do you enjoy it or are you uncomfortable with it?

 from Goodreads

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be and you help them to become what they are capable of being. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


  1. My three sisters and I grew up with a father who paid us the nicest compliments, looking us in the eye when he said it. I bet your colleague did that too with his students or it wouldn't have made such a positive impression on you and most of them wouldn't have believed him either. But I'd never really thought about it from the point of view of searching ourselves for things we were doing that truly were awesome when complimented. That just might also make me want to do something awesome.

    I know that a compliment, even for something simple, can make my day. And I like to see a face light up when I compliment them. And there's nothing I like better than to see my granddaughters' faces light up when I compliment them. In this day of bullying at school and on social media, it would be nice to see more people taking the opposite approach.

    1. I think that compliments from a father to daughters are indeed special! My colleague always seemed natural and sincere with his students treating the most challenging ones as affectionately as the well-behaved. That Goethe quotation summarizes it perfectly:people who are treated as though they are worthwhile, try harder to deserve your respect.

      I enjoy it when someone notices that I paid special attention with my appearance or when I help them find a special book. If we praise and acknowledge our children, they are less likely to act out for attention. I think you're right about bullying too. If we model positive social interactions and help the less secure child to feel better, we hopefully are bully-proofing our young,

  2. Mr. X. is genius! I worked with a Mr. D. who was very similar. He was always looking for a way to compliment a child or teacher but with a sincere, heartfelt comment. He wore a tie everyday, too, and lined up the kids at the door to enter the classroom every morning so he could welcome each one personally. Great way to start the day.

  3. I worked with a teacher who greeted each student at the door each day too. I think that it sets
    a polite tone for the day. Students who are treated with respect and courtesy are like to demonstrate the same behaviour.


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