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Sharing School Success and Student Stories

STRATEGY: Share the school’s successes, no matter how small, through all relevant outreach channels (e.g., email, traditional and social media, daily updates, videos, etc.).

Of all the things that have the power to engage people in their work, the single most important factor is making progress—even if that progress is small. There’s always some progress to recognize in a day, even on the most challenging days, and sharing small wins and celebrating successes helps schools leverage progress to boost motivation. By celebrating small wins, the team is reminded of the overall goals and degree of implementation. Celebrating successes, no matter how small, also serves to emphasize how important it is to set goals, provide a way to track progress, and increase job satisfaction. In addition, sharing school successes provides people information they need to know to do their jobs and to feel good about being a member of the school community.


A small win is a concrete outcome of moderate importance. By itself, one small win may seem unimportant; however, a series of small wins reveal a pattern of progress. This progress is fundamental to human nature but is often not leveraged to boost motivation. Big wins are powerful and critically important, but even small wins boost motivation and carve a path for further work and success. Numerous outreach channels can be used to share small wins and increase stakeholder engagement (e.g., email, social media, videos, daily verbal updates, community meetings, PTA, etc.). It doesn’t really matter which is selected; the important outcome is to develop a system that makes sense for the school and district community. While all channels of communication are not equal, they are useful in establishing a positive feedback loop with community members. When there is a culture of celebrating the small wins, educators and students will more likely strive harder for success and be more comfortable being a part of change.

First Steps to Consider

  • Create forums to identify small wins that can be reported out, such as “accountability” groups with weekly check-ins—including teacher leaders, student representatives, and other administrative staff.
  • Make a plan for communicating success. Such a plan is critical. It identifies, for example, a consistent time to share small wins.
  • Create an easy-to-use system for collecting information. For example, design and circulate to staff members a template for logging pertinent details, encouraging staff to participate in the process.
  • Collect information from a variety of sources, such as participant progress reports, surveys, and remarks; staff records of participant observations or conversations; data shared at staff meetings; or stories shared by family members and program partners.
  • Maintain a list of small successes to determine what is working in real time; this list can open thinking to possibilities and paves the way for improving processes.

Complexities & Pitfalls

  • Good writing is that which efficiently and effectively communicates to readers the points and messages they need to know, and that the school or district needs to communicate. Unfortunately, school and district personnel often write without a plan.
  • Inconsistent use of communication channels can be more damaging to a communication plan than no use at all. To reach all stakeholders, use all and a diverse set of of communication channels.
  • There are schools and districts that do not value the importance of communicating to their constituents.

Guiding Questions

  • What will be accomplished between now and the next report to the community?
  • Is there a link between celebration and momentum? How does celebrating success motivate teachers? Is sharing small successes changing mindset or increasing motivation? In what ways?
  • What learning has evolved through celebrating incremental successes?
  • What successes has the school celebrated?
  • Who are the stakeholders to share successes with?
  • How much time does it take to share successes per communication channel?