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East Arbor Educator Prioritizes Student Recognition and Kindness

Recognition can be so much more than saying, “good job”, something one East Arbor Charter Academy educator knows well. Delisia Morris, who has been with the school for four years, goes above and beyond to recognize and affirm her first graders virtually. One tactic that has been noticed by her school leader has been her Love Calls.

Love Calls, a concept Ms. Morris heard about from One FAB Teacher’s YouTube channel, are a special way of giving students recognition for the amazing things they do in the classroom. About four times a week during lessons or meetings, she stops and calls a student’s parent to recognize them in front of the class.

“I have received countless parent emails and phone calls over the years regarding Ms. Morris’ authentic relationships with her students,” said Tanesha Newby, principal at East Arbor. “Her Love Calls are what stand out the most. She frequently calls parents during the day and affirms the student in front of the class. The joy in their eyes is priceless, and I am certain that the memory will last a lifetime.”

Student recognition is so important to Ms. Morris because she wants to teach her scholars that they matter. “All my students have the right for their voices to be heard and their work to be recognized, especially by their peers,” she said. “It is important for me to recognize them frequently because they need to know what it looks like and sounds like to give positive recognition to each other.”

An article titled “Ways to Promote Student Recognition at the End of the Year” from teachhub.com stated: “Students in all grade levels, from kindergarten to 12th grade, are motivated by positive praise. Schools and teachers may choose awards in various forms to recognize students’ excellent achievement, respectful behavior, or inspirational special talent. Recognizing the excellent efforts of students expresses the importance of hard work, while providing students with a positive self-worth and high level of accomplishment. Recognizing students at school is important for character development and sustaining meaningful student engagement.”

Her class frequently practices celebratory cheers, including a 10-finger “ahh yea”, a roller coaster with snaps, and giving themselves pats on the back. She even catches students doing the cheers on their own sometimes!

Ms. Morris also recognizes her students through the Star of the Week program, which she has continued to do virtually. Each student has the opportunity to be a star during the year, and it’s a big deal in their class. Each day of the week includes a special activity for the star.

On Monday, a poster is presented on the star and Ms. Morris posts a picture of the student on Google Classroom. On Tuesday, the star can bring something to class that is special to them or their family. On Wednesday, they get to share their favorite book with the class. On Thursday, they bring photos of their friends and family and keepsakes to share. And on Friday, the star student can bring a special guest to the live virtual meeting, including moms, dads, siblings, and other family members.

“Family Friday is my favorite because the Star of the Week can bring a loved one to the class meeting and we get to learn so much more about the student by asking the family visitor questions,” said Ms. Morris. “The special moment that the Star of the Week and the family guest get to have on this day is priceless. This helps build a strong parental and family relationship. I can't imagine not doing Star of the Week in my class.”​​​​​​​

Ms. Morris believes that this program is important for her students because it teaches them that everyone is different but also may have similarities.

“The impact of me recognizing all my scholars is the pleasure of watching them acknowledge when their peers are giving 100% effort or doing the right thing,” said Ms. Morris. “I am able to observe my class take ownership of showing each other respect and recognition.”

Ms. Morris’ favorite thing about teaching at East Arbor is Moral Focus – she loves teaching the importance of gratitude, compassion, and wisdom. And to teach her students kindness, she models what it should look and sound like whenever she has the chance.

She frequently recognizes her students for showing kindness by saying things like, “wonderful job” and “thank you for showing kindness!” She believes that when you recognize the small moments of kindness in a classroom, it shows students that kindness is cool.

“Ms. Morris’ passion for teaching is very clear from the second you step into her classroom,” said Ryan Killebrew, dean of lower elementary at East Arbor. “The family-like community she builds in her classroom allows her students to feel comfortable, safe, and loved each day. Her students absolutely love her warm greetings each morning, her personal affirmations, and the constant celebratory cheers for their amazing work. We are so lucky to have her at East Arbor!”

Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Morris!