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Staff bonding through encouragement


When the tension has risen, it seems as no one is on the same page, it is time to have students appreciate and validate one another. This team building activity is a worthwhile investment of time, as the kids will build each other up and remind them of what is important.

Students will compliment each participant in writing and then reveal all the compliments at once. Using paper, a writing utensil and tape, this activity requires more time than resources. Students walk away with a keepsake, feeling validated for their contributions to the group.


  • Students will identify what makes a compliment authentic.
  • Students will understand why it is important to maintain a positive work environment.
  • Students will create authentic compliments for one another. They can think of something that pertains: to their job on staff, their job in the classroom, a story they wrote or photo they have taken. It can also be out of class or about their character.

Common Core Standards

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.SL.9-10.1 Initiate and participate effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grades 9-10 topics, texts, and issues, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.4 Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


20-45-minutes, depending on number of participants



Each participant must have a pen

2-3 tape dispensers

Lesson step-by-step

1. Prep — 5 minutes

Each participant will need one sheet of paper. Have them trace their hand on the center of the paper.

Pair up participants so they have a buddy. After their hand is traced, using a partner, they need to tape the paper to their back.

2. Activity — 15-40 minutes (the more participants, the longer this will take)

Students will take turns writing authentic compliments on each other’s paper. Writing their names to the paper are not needed. If more than 15 participants, there may not room.

Compliments can be related to: the job they have on staff, maybe something observed in the classroom/media room; it can be skills-based like a compliment on a story they wrote or a photo they have taken; something outside of class or observed in another class, maybe something about their personality or a compliment about them as a person.

The rule must be emphasized that each participant must come up with one authentic, concise compliment for each participant. The time-consuming part of this activity is the time it takes to handwrite on each person’s back.

3. Complement reveal — 5 minutes

After everyone is finished writing, make sure everyone waits together for the reveal. They all take them off their backs at one time and can read what people wrote.

The leader can wrap-up with a group question they all need to answer (depending on time and how many participants):

  • What is your favorite compliment?
  • What was your best compliment?
  • How do you feel after participating in this activity?
  • What can we learn from paying compliments to each other?