A teacher celebrating student success in the classroom.

Celebrating Student Success in the Classroom

A big part of the teaching profession involves pointing out mistakes, correcting errors and the like. But, as always, it’s important to present a balance to constructive, corrective feedback by also recognizing and celebrating student success in the classroom.  

Teachers know recognition and words of encouragement can go a long way. Everybody likes being recognized for a job well done — even teachers themselves! This post will cover some of my favorite ways to celebrate student success at school. 

"Yay," spelled out in balloons to celebrate student success.

Catching Students in the Act of Doing Things Right

Celebrating student success drives student motivation and self-esteem, and it creates a positive classroom culture. However, not all praise and positive feedback should be given publicly. That’s the first decision a teacher or principal must make.  

There will be occasions when praise and positive feedback should be given privately to a student so as not to draw unwarranted attention to private matters that might cause embarrassment or other less-than-positive emotions. Be aware of these special circumstances and pass on your praise appropriately. 

That said, public recognition is much more fun, don’t you think? That’s where we’ll go next! 

Celebrating Your Student’s Hard-Earned Successes

Involve the parents/guardians. Too often, communications to parents and guardians center on what’s gone wrong rather than what’s gone right. And, while a student spends a lot of time at school, they spend more time at home. That’s two good reasons right there to include parents and guardians in celebrating success. 

You could notify parents with a simple email, but your impact will be even higher with a handwritten note or even … gasp … a phone call! However, just like when determining if praise should be given privately or publicly, there are a couple of considerations when involving parents. First, if you know the parents are working professionals, you might need to schedule a phone call or make a call outside of normal school hours. Then, of course, there might be some cultural differences and/or family dynamics to keep front of mind.  

Mother celebrating student success of her daughter.

Create a Student Success Wall. A student success wall is a terrific addition to most any classroom. First, it frees flat, horizontal surfaces for other items, and every experienced teacher knows that free space in the classroom is valued real estate! Secondly, a student success wall serves as a colorful, personal, and motivational wall covering for your classroom. 

But, most importantly, a student success wall reinforces positive behaviors and motivates the repetition of those behaviors, all while celebrating student success.  

Create a space on the wall for each student, and then start populating those spaces with visual kudos for a job well done. For any football fans out there, think of the helmet stickers that schools like the University of Michigan and the University of Georgia bestow upon their players for their big accomplishments. It’s an honor to receive a sticker, and those players proudly adorn their helmets. Let your students adorn their space. 

It doesn’t have to be stickers, of course, although most everyone loves a good sticker. Teachers too, by the way! Let your imagination find the perfect reward for you and your classroom. 

Lastly, look beyond strict academic achievement to celebrate success. In fact, the most meaningful recognition often involves what I’ll term “life skills.” Did you discover a student displaying excellent communication or conflict management skills? If so, it’s “sticker time!” 

Bring in the Principal. Especially in elementary schools, the principal brings with them a certain level of pizzaz. Book time with the principal for a visit to your classroom. 

A visit from the principal not only gives you an opportunity to show off your classroom and what your students are working on, it allows you to bring their focus to your success wall and the wonderful accomplishments of your students. Then, allow the principal to bestow the latest round of honors to your students — the impact will be long lasting. 


Teaching has never been solely about correcting mistakes. Celebrating student success is every bit as important, and it is a major factor in shaping the culture and atmosphere of every classroom.  

Celebrating successes will make both you and your students feel good. Plus, that positive feedback provides a strong motivator for students to repeat their behavior and/or performance. There are a bunch of ways to celebrate in your classroom. I hope the ideas above provide you with a spark!