The article focuses on pedagogical practices of recognition and esteem (Wertschätzung) and on the question of how those practices can be appropriately studied and epistemologically grasped. The investigation involves an inner-city elementary school in a socio-economically problematic district. With regard to the communication forms in this specific school, we identify specific practices which constitute a culture of recognition and esteem that provides a reference framework and performative space to those involved. But what does a culture of recognition and esteem designate? Three heuristic categories have been developed as a result of our study in order to better describe and define the phenomenon: (1) the act of recognition and esteem, (2) the creation of an atmosphere of recognition and esteem and (3) the practices of shaping a culture of recognition and esteem. We analyse the verbal, non-verbal and performative aspects of communication within the context of schooling. The data were produced as part of an ethnographic research collaboration that has lasted over 12 years and which was initiated in the context of the Berlin Ritual Study at Freie Universität Berlin. The ethnography is based on participant observation and videography of pupils aged 8 12 years. Our systematisation of recognition and esteem shows a potentiality to describe a phenomenon without reducing complexity and highlights the everyday work of pedagogical practice.