My school does, and when the email comes through to remind us to do them, often on a Monday morning just before they are due, I curse their existence!
Today I want to share with you some strategies I use to help make managing merit certificates a little easier.
Record who, when and whyKeep a checklist dedicated to merit certificates. Have a column for recording when students get them. I usually do week and term, e.g. Wk4 T3.
I also like to write down a few keywords for why they are getting a certificate. This is useful if you might give students more than one in a year and don't want to give them one for the same reason.
Have a routineHaving a routine means you can do repetitive tasks quickly. My routine is getting out the checklist and scanning down the list of who hasn't had one. If a name jumps out at me, it usually means they have done something I can write a certificate for.
If nothing jumps out at me, I will get my timetable for the last week or so and look at the activities we have done recently. I see if I remember anyone being a stand-out and if they haven't had a certificate yet.
If you have a few extra steps to writing yours, e.g. if you have to hand write them, get people to sign them or send a notification to parents, you might want a checklist printed out. That way, you can check it off as you go. Laminate it or keep it in a write-and-wipe sleeve to reuse it.
Have a list of behaviours to refer toIf neither of the above gets me any closer to writing a certificate, I start looking at behaviours. Have they done any good things related to the following;
- organised desk/tray
- helping others/peer tutoring
- school values/virtues/matrix
- followed classroom rule
- improvement in an area
- effort/diligence or motivation
Keep a document of past certificate wordingI haven't done this yet, but I really want to start!
Having a file filled with past certificate wording can help when you are struggling to think of what to write or how to phrase it the right way. Sometimes I find just reading through certificates can help get me in the flow and make the wording come more easily.
Don't go for the 'easy' kids at the start of the year.Some kids just do everything right all the time. You know the ones I mean. We often want to give them the certificate at the beginning of the year because we have noticed their amazing behaviour. These are the kids you actually want to leave until later in the year.
Start with the slightly harder kids at the beginning of the year. This is not only a way to help them settle in and build your relationship with them, but it means you are not left with the 'hard' ones at the end of the year. (If you know, you know!).
At the end of the year (or even just during a stressful week), you will have those easy-to-write-a-certificate for kids up your sleeve!
Let me know your merit certificate tricks and tips by commenting below!