INTRODUCTION: I used this activity as a motivator, teambuilding exercise. It is done halfway through a course or program. Students are given recognition for making it “half way” through the course/program by means of a certificate. They present the certificates to their peers and say a few words recognizing their strengths/contributions.
- To build students’ confidence
- To give recognition for reaching the halfway point in course/program
- To celebrate strengths/contributions of individuals in the class
- To give students the responsibility for recognizing their peers
- To build team spirit
Certificates need to be prepared ahead of time. Mine have “Congratulations” across the top of the page. Underneath the student’s name is printed. Then it says “You have made it to the half-way point.” Below that I put “You have contributed to the success of this class by doing the following things.” At the bottom of the certificate is a place for the ‘presenter’ to sign his or her name.
1. The day before the celebration I tell the students that we are going to have a special presentation the following day. I announce that each person will be recognizing one peer for the work that person has done and contributions that person has made to the class. It is a celebration that each of us has made it to the half-way point. I give each student a certificate with someone else’s name on it.
2. I explain that on the following day they will be presenting the certificate to their classmate. I ask them to think about “skills” they have recognized in the person (great at solving problems, has good ideas in brainstorming sessions, makes a great web page, etc.) or think about “personal characteristics” the person has that makes them a good team player (helps people out, good sense of humor, thoughtful). They will write about these “skills” and “personal characteristics” in the space provided at the bottom of the certificate. I ask them to have this ready for the following day.
3. On the celebration day each student goes to the front of the room one at a time. They say who they are presenting the certificate to and then they tell us about the “skills” and “personal characteristics” of that person. They present the certificate to the person and shake their hand to the applause of their peers. Each person in the class takes a turn.
I found that this activity gets people thinking about what it takes to “make it” in a working group. The result of the activity is that we celebrate strengths of individuals and most people feel good the rest of the day (or maybe even the week). It is a team builder and it can motivate learners to continue doing good work. It also gives students, rather than the instructor, the responsibility to recognize their peers.
Depending on the resources you have, you can make this into a small or large celebration. I also take my students out for breakfast (on me) during the same week. You could have cake or some other food to add to the event. To build community, you could even ask students to bring food to share.
Students remember this activity as a “feel good” time. It builds on their success to date. I have heard some students say that they take their certificates home to show their children. Others put it in a special place to pull out when they need a lift. In my experience, this activity has a positive effect on both students and instructors.
–Sue Davis, Continuing Education Dept., New Brunswick Community College – Saint John, CN