Positive Office Referrals

This is my first year as an administrator. After 22 years in the classroom, I made the leap. And you know what? I absolutely love it. I love the daily interactions with students, with teachers, with staff, with parents — there is NEVER a dull moment.

Being sent to the “the principal’s office” has never been seen in a very positive light. And although it is an honor and privilege to help students work through disciplinary issues and achieve success, I also wanted to meet ALL of the students at my school – and I wanted to give them a positive view of my office and the experiences they could have here.

That started with the physical appearance of my office. I spent time making it “homey” as well as welcoming. Decorations, wall hangings, lights, personal photos, candy, a disc golf basket, music — all of the intentionally chosen items in my office are purposely here to welcome students — even when they might be here for discipline.

Next, we needed a system for calling students down for positive reasons. I ran the idea past my principal (who is super supportive and pretty amazing) and he was completely on board. So I created the “Baron Fist Bump” or “Positive Office Referral“.

Every week, all the administrators and guidance counselors in our building meet for a regular office meeting. Positive Office Referrals are a weekly routine — we read them out loud and then distribute them to the administrator or guidance counselor who wants the awesome privilege of celebrating that student.

What’s super cool is that teachers often highlight students who are struggling academically or mentally through our positive office referrals — seeing the “good” when that student made a great choice to help someone else or finish homework on time. So far this year (and it’s only November!) we have celebrated over 50 students who have been recognized with a Baron Fist Bump.

So, what’s our process?

Our teachers grab a Positive Office Referral from Student Services or download the referral online (we use Google Drive). Once they’ve filled out the referral, they turn it into a little red box made by our fabulous administrative assistant. Once we’ve read the office referrals and catalogued them (we have been trying to keep track of all the students/grades), the student is called down to the office.

The administrator or counselor celebrates that student, reads the referral, and if he or she wants, calls home. The student then has his/her picture taken with a Fist Bump sign and it is sent to our district social media coordinator, who posts the pictures on our Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites (only if student has given permission).

A letter (and the Fist Bump) is sent home to parents explaining the fist bump and WHY it is so important. I mean, it’s a PRETTY BIG DEAL! And it is SUPER AMAZING to be able to honor students in this way.

I mean, getting called to the “principal’s office” can be pretty amazing nowadays!


If you or your school is interested in the Fist Bump, grab the samples and templates from my Teachers Pay Teachers store! While you’re there, check out some of my other resources as well!