Stamps, stickers and stars!

I like stickers – there you are, I admit it…there’s something tangibly satisfying about both giving and receiving a sticker – in short it’s a winner!

Irrespective of whether we are giving stickers or stamps or even stars, let’s just pause for a moment and consider why we are giving these and what do they show or reflect?

What are we giving them for?

There has to be something special that we give these things out for – if we make them too easy to win or dish them out like confetti then, of course they will have no value….so they must need effort and achievement to be won and naturally this varies according to each individual child.

Here is a brief list of occasions where you may consider handing out a sticker or stamp award….

  • Great work – presentation, amount or achievement.
  • Behaviour
  • Concentration and listening
  • Being helpful in class
  • Kindness, considerations and caring for others

And of course the list could, I am sure, go on.

In other words we are responding to a child’s actions in whatever sphere with an acknowledgement of what they have done.

The above are sort of generic stamps which can be applied across every area listed….they cover all the bases and so are a good set to have.

However if our stamps are purely “work” related they cannot be used to suit other occasions.

The same applies for stickers – generic can be used anywhere whereas work related ones are specific and limited in their application.

Stars – seem to be used less and less; however, they have an application that the others do not. It is possible to award stars as part of an ongoing awards system where the collection of stars either by individuals or by groups or even the class can lead to some sort of reward or prize of opportunity for the winner. This of course is not possible with the use of  stamps or stickers – so maybe in some situations and classroom strategies stars could work well!

What do they mean…what is the significance?

As I have previously said – they say to the children “well done – your work (or other) has been great. I (as the teacher or T.A) have seen it and it deserves an award.

But what do they mean to the children? – Beyond the obvious, which is the recognition of good performance, there are extra things of importance and significance.

  • More often than not there is the verbal praise that goes along with the award
  • It could be that the work or other is praised in front of the whole class
  • There is something tangible that has been given and not just a tick!
  • The sticker or stamp highlights that particular piece of work to parents and also to classmates.

Personally, I used stamps more often than not. But I used to give mine with a bit of a twist.

I used to not only highlight the excellent work and make a bit of a fuss but the child also had the option of the stamp either in their book or on the back of their hand.

Here are my main 2 stamps for this….

and this

Nine times out of 10 the children would opt for the stamp on the back of their hand….why?

  • It looked cool!
  • Everybody around them could see that they had been given an award for “good stuff” by Mr Watson!
  • Parents could see straight away that they had done some good work during the day and comment positively!
  • Other teachers would comment at times

In fact some other teachers would send children in order to get a hand stamp !

The same criteria applies to stickers that are put on jumpers of course…instantly recognisable by friends and parents…..but perhaps not as cool!

But other types of stickers and stamps are now finding their way into the classroom

This applies mostly to stamps really – these are the usual types of stamps that teachers have used for years of course.

Easy to use and applicable anywhere and right across the age ranges.

or the ones with a small bit of feedback.

All showing great feedback, praise for recognition of good work and again easy to use.

However we are now seeing the introduction of a new style of stamp that goes much further than previously seen.

 

These all look great and could certainly be used productively at the end of a piece of marking. They summarise things neatly and give feedback to the children as well as asking for attention to certain areas. The self assessment stamp is valuable on completion of work. However we must remember that these type of stamps merely summarise our marking – it does not replace the marking – their aim is to eliminate the comments that are made at the end of the piece.

There are other stamps however that do cause concern.

My reason for the concern is that I have seen them used with the absence of ANY marking and further feedback. To put things bluntly they have the potential to be used as a teacher fail safe instead of marking the work!

On their own they represent NOTHING…and should not be condoned or accepted in school. If used in conjunction with additional pupil reflection or notes (including marking and / or grading) then these would provide a simple indicator about the work but should always point towards further information recorded in some way. But on their own with nothing else….really just an attempt to cover up the fact that the work has not been marked!

In summing up – Stamps, stickers and stars are great fun to include in your classroom practice. They are versatile and can be used in many many ways. They not only encourage the children to aim high but can reward children at all levels of achievement and in all circumstances.

The wide variety of stamps and stickers to suit every message and situation, including those specifically tailored to learning feedback are a great inclusion in every teachers bag or desk….children across the age ranges love to earn them and the sense of achievement and pride is can be seen on their faces (and on their hands in my class!)

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