Okay so I think I’ve started a thing in my classroom. Each month my district has a Social Emotional Learning Challenge calendar. For every school day of the month, there is a different activity that we are to complete in order to win. This month I have paid special attention to it and decided to give it a try. Well Day 1 was to have your student write out a goal for themselves and to check to see how they’ve done by the middle of the month. So, I had my students type up their goal and we put them all on our back bulletin board along with some beautifully decorated shamrocks. Well of course, me being the consummate teacher I am, decided I should make a goal (and shamrock)as well. My goal it to write up a positive note on a post it for each student in my class and stick it to their assignment notebook at the end of the day. With there being only 16 school days in the month of March, I had to double up and do 2 notes per day to be sure that I get everyone before we leave for spring break on 3/23. I never realized how powerful this note writing would be for my students. Now I’m noticing at the end of the day, little eyes are perking up to see who gets the yellow post it at the end of the day. Actually, it’s not so much of who is getting the post it, I think they’re just anxiously anticipating their time to get a yellow post-it. End of day arrives, students fill in their daily assignments, I sign off on their notebooks, and pass of the post its to the two lucky students. The post it recipients, go off on their way, special note in hand, take a pause and read their positive letter. I watch them read, I watch their faces light up, and I know in that moment I’ve sincerely made them feel special, noticed, and seen. For me it feels like that Christmas or birthday when you know you’ve given the perfect present.
The funny thing is, as much as they are looking to me for approval and assurance, I’m looking at them for the same. I make the letters as personalized as I can, being sure to touch on a special attribute or a special connection that is uniquely between that individual student and myself. So I’m looking at their responses as a form of approval for what I’m writing, looking for a sign of “did I get that right”? Funny how it never dawned on me that I would need validation from them as much as they need it from me. Oh the things you learn as a teacher!