On Tuesday (we had PD/no kids) I hung up this "Free Positive Thoughts.... Take One" sign just outside my door. Primarily, I did it for the teachers, thinking they would pass by and get a chuckle out of it, some maybe even pausing to stop, read, and take one. But by late Tuesday afternoon, no teachers had noticed. They had been up and down the hall several times and even in and out of my room, but not a word about my cutesy little sign. So I gave up and pulled a couple of my teacher friends from their rooms to show them my adorable display and shamelessly promote my positivity idea. Now I was very curious to see the reaction from the students the next day. Would they notice it? Would they take one? What would they say?
This morning, the students arrived, happy and eager to be back after their Tuesday off. They poured into the room, stopping to check in for lunch, turning in their homework, and beginning their day like they do every day.
Rats! I was thinking to myself. Nobody even noticed. I had even made it a bright yellow to attract more attention. How could people possibly walk by an obnoxious number of smiley faces and not notice??
And then, as if on cue, I spotted one of my stragglers coming in the doorway. He took a double take and then ever so slowly backed up back out into the hall looking intently at the sign. I watched him from across the room. I could see his lips moving as he read it, could see the corners of his mouth turn up in a smile. He turned his head to the right to read the little notes. I couldn't help myself. I strolled over to get a closer look.
"Hey! Did you see this?" he asked me.
"Yes," I answered. "I not only saw it, I also put it there!"
"Really?" he beamed. "Well.... can I take one?"
"Of course!" I told him. "That's what they are for. They are for all of you! Take one and have a positive day!"
"I will!" he excitedly said as he carefully read them again before tearing off one reading, "You are wonderful!"
Of course by then, eight or nine other students were heading towards the hallway to see what they were missing out on.
"Whoa... whoa... back it up people," I directed, shooing them back into the room. "I'll show you what it is."
I unstuck the sign and held it up for them to see.
"It's a free positive notes sign. You can take one if you need one," I explained and I posted it back on the wall. "But right now, we need to get to work." Figured I would delay their gratification a bit.
For the next ten or fifteen minutes, the most curious students, came up with all sorts of excuses to go out into the hallway to their backpack just so they could read the sign. The boy that was the first to find the sign, carried the slip of paper around with him all day. He placed it on his desk when he was at his desk and carried it in his pocket when he left the room. When I picked up my class from gym today, he was telling our PE teacher that he did so well in gym today because he had a lucky note! How cute is that?
Another thing that happened today was I introduced the Cootie Bug behavior management plan. Now, before you think this is some great idea I came up with, I want to fully disclose that I found it on Pinterest over the summer. By this time of the year, the students are more talkative, the behavior is sometimes more awful, and classroom management becomes increasingly more difficult as spring fever begins to hit. So, meet Cootie Bug.
I began by reviewing with the class how important it is that we all work together and get along. They all did the mandatory "head nodding while teacher talking" response. I whisked the Cootie Bug box from behind my back. Aha! Now I had their attention!
"Sooo....." I began. "We are going to work together to build a Cootie Bug. When we get the bug complete you can earn some extra time to play chess, read, go outside or some other choice you all agree on." Heads were nodding vigorously now. "It's simple," I continued. "We all work together. You can earn a piece of the bug anytime you display great work ethic and cooperation in class." I showed them one of the completed bugs I had made to show them what they were aiming for.
Within the hour, the kids had been doing so great, I told them they had earned a "body" for the bug and my CEO's (classroom executive officers) for the week, raced to the box to pick out the body.
"Can we make it tie-dye?" one of them asked as he and his friend picked through the box.
I envisioned them dipping the plastic parts in different paints.
"Tie-dye?" I asked.
"You know," one of them told me. "A different color for each half of the body and head."
"Well, I didn't know what you meant. So thanks for clearing that up nicely for me. And, yes. It's your bug. Have at it," I said.
Soon they had clipped together a blue and purple body for our Cootie Bug. We plopped it down for all to see.
"Well done," I congratulated them. "I'm sure it won't be long before we have our bug complete. Do remember, though, that if our class is not working well together, I will have to remove a body part." (pause) "Not from any of you, of course!" (laughter)
By day's end we had a multi-colored Cootie bug body and head. We also had a little bit more inspiration in the classroom as everyone was being extra helpful and cooperative. I'll be sure to post our finished bug for all to see.
And on another very positive note, by day's end all of my little positive slips were taken.
It struck me as I drove home today that all it takes is one of us to notice something and start something. But it takes all of us to work together to be successful, positive, and happy.