I know this article is meant more for the middle/high school arena: http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/06/25/in-student-awards-season-thinking-about-the-ones-we-dont-give/
...but it struck a nerve with me. I think especially when you teach GT kids, you have to be used to having students who don't fit the proverbial "mold". They can be social misfits, not have tools to channel emotions or, let's face it, just plain odd. Maybe it's the psych major in me, but I often observe the kids playing like I'm doing a case study :). Once I had a student who spent recess walking around a tree over and over-that was just fascinating to me. I don't know that I'll ever figure them out, but I'm one of those teachers who relates to, even values odd, so I guess it's a good match.
Anyway, I thought this was an interesting take on awards. I know even in Kinder during class, the kids know who the "Superstars" are. It broke my heart the first time I realized I was unwillingly doing this. My 2nd year teaching, one of the students said "you think Robert is the smartest one in the class". And the truth was, I actually didn't think that. Was he the best reader (a trait often admired by kids who struggle with that skill), yes. But certainly we all know people are "smart" in different ways. Awards are often no different and even though we may give an award to every child, I think many families know the "good citizen" award is another way of saying "I just couldn't think of anything nice to say about Johnny". Valuing high grades and talents/abilities is fine, but I think we should also value publicly other qualities. If you can't think of one quality to recognize in a child, I don't think you have taken the time to get to know them well enough.
A friend of mine teaches middle school and was in awe of a boy who she witnessed stand up for another boy getting teased for wearing make-up in the hallway. How much courage that must have taken! I've had students who would jump to help anybody do anything. They even notice my tea bottle is empty and get another one out of my bag-I turn around-a full bottle! How thoughtful is that! One year I had a student who really struggled academically, but man, she had common sense. You know how you can send 2 students to the office with something to give the secretary, and they can come back 20 minutes later saying there was no one there, so they walked around the whole school looking for the secretary! :0 She wasn't like that. I could trust her with any task. If something spilled, she wouldn't just stand there watching it spill all over the floor and then come over and tell me it spilled (don't you love when they do that), she'd go get something to clean it up with. That's a rare quality in 5-year olds.
Anyway, I know our next awards season is pretty far away, but I thought it was worth thinking about.