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?
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