The last few years have been difficult to say the least. They've been difficult for everyone, but teachers and students have had to face obstacles they've never had to face before and because of it, anxiety, social and mental issues, behavior issues, and academic issues are higher than they've ever been.
As teachers, we have limited power to change things, but where we have all the power to change things is in our school and in our classrooms.
My principal told us of his idea for a "Kindness Campus" at the end of this school year for the upcoming school year. A campus where kindness reigns supreme and where we are going to work hard as a staff, as students, as mentors, and as a community to bring positivity to our little campus and hope that it spreads beyond our school walls. It's a great idea!
As I was contemplating what I could do in my own classroom to support this idea and I came up with positive notes.
As teachers, we give so much feedback to students in the classroom, on their papers, and on their assessments, but often this feedback, no matter how well-intended, is negative feedback.
Students already face so much negativity in their lives each and every day, whether it be from social media, their peers, news outlets, or even their own family, they are never far from low self-esteem.
We may not be able to change everything, but we can add a bit of positivity to each and every student!
Many of us already write emails to students' parents, and that is awesome, but it's just not as personal as a note given directly to the student. Plus it goes to the parents who already know their child is awesome. Positivity Notes go directly to the student and they instantly can change the student's mood, their day, and even give them a smile, if only for a moment.
Positivity Notes don't take much money or even a lot of time, but the change they can make for a student is priceless.
So grab a set of sticky notes and write positive messages for your students. Have a set pre-made so you can leave them on students' desks when you see that they're down or that they did something extra special that day. You can attach them to assignments before you pass them back. You can place a Positivity Note on all desks before students come into your room to set the class off right. You can write a special birthday message and give it to the student on their special day. If you know they are in band, choir, dance, sports, drama, Science or Math Olympiad, spelling bee, or any other way students are recognized, you can write them a special message after a concert, a game, recital, play, or competition. There are so many different ways that you can encourage and spread positivity to your students.
Students are always struggling to be seen for who they are and what they do. They are most noticed when they misbehave and students who don't misbehave are rarely noticed. Think about the last time that you truly paid a compliment to one of your students who always does what you ask, never misbehaves, is always on time, and never gives you any trouble. I know, that although these students are my most appreciated students, they get the least amount of my attention because my attention is nearly always directed at misbehavior. And that is just wrong. Why do only the trouble-makers get my attention? And again, isn't that a form of negative feedback?
And why not extend this activity by having students write positive notes on a Post-It Note and leave it on the desk for the next student to read or to post them on the window in your classroom facing out (have students write these on the BACK of the sticky note so you can stick them to the inside of the window) so passers-by can read them? There are so many variations, but the one thing in common for all of them is to make someone's day.
So I'm so looking forward to implementing these ideas next year. I've made some pre-made Positivity Notes that I can print and cut out and as the year progresses, I'll make more and more as I think of them. But I will also write personalized notes on the many Post-It Notes that I buy each year. I can't think of a better use for these stationary staples. Because at the end of the day, this little random act of kindness can turn a day around for a kid, and for some kids, that's the only positivity they have in their lives.
I remember reading something in a classroom-management blog or book or article or somewhere that we don't want to cause friction in our classrooms. And I read somewhere else that we always want our emails to leave people better off than they were before they read them. I don't want to be the friction in my students' lives and I want my students to leave my class better off than they were before they entered. I believe these Positivity Notes will help do that and generate a unique, positive classroom community that hopefully will spread out into the halls of my school.
Do you have any ideas to spread positivity in your classroom, in your school? Please share them in the comments!
Also, be sure to download my Positivity Cheatsheet and Printable Notes by clicking the button below.