I love Post-It notes. When I was in the classroom, my students and I used them all the time. I utilized them to keep myself organized, reminders and checklists constantly stuck on my desk, notebooks, and teaching manuals. Each of my students had his/her own pad of Post-Its they used for a variety of purposes -- note-taking, making graphs in math, even classroom currency paychecks. They were everywhere in my classroom, and you’ll find them all over my office today. Post-Its are awesome! But the other day I was reminded just how powerful a Post-It note can be.
Thanks to a bond measure that was passed by our community, all the schools in my district are receiving educational technology upgrades, and my site is scheduled to have new audio/visual systems installed in a few days. Our staff is very excited! The other day I was in a classroom showing a teacher where the new equipment was going to be installed in her room. As we were standing by her computer, I glanced down and happened to notice a Post-It note the teacher had stuck to the bottom of her monitor. On it were the words “Thanks for everything you do!” The handwriting on the note looked familiar and for good reason -- I had written the note.
I remember writing it, but to be honest, I don’t remember exactly when. What I do know is that I wrote it some time ago. Yet there it was, stuck to her monitor, offering her encouragement every time she sits down at her computer.
In that moment I was reminded of the long-lasting impact words of encouragement can have. Five words, written on a sticky note. That’s it. Not a five-paragraph essay, not a formal letter of recommendation. A Post-It note. Yet it must have been meaningful because it didn’t get tossed in the trash. It instead occupies valuable real estate on her desk.
Years and years ago I took an unused purple file folder and labeled it “Thank You.” Each time I’ve received a nice note from a student, parent, or administrator, I’ve dropped it in my “Thank You” file. Periodically I pull the file out and glance at some of the notes inside, usually when things are incredibly stressful and I’m in need of a little encouragement. Most of the notes I’ve saved aren’t long. Many are tiny scraps of paper with only a few words on them. But they meant enough to me that I’ve saved them for all these years, and they’ve lifted my spirits time and time again.
Seeing that Post-It note on my teacher’s monitor reminded me that I need to write notes like that more often. So often I think how appreciative I am of those around me, and I try to be very deliberate in expressing my appreciation verbally. That’s great, but putting those words of affirmation in writing takes it to another level. A note is tangible. A note can be saved and read again and again and again, for years.
If you’re a teacher, I encourage you to write notes like this to your students. Choose a couple students a day and write a short note of encouragement on a Post-It and put it on their desk, notebook, cubby, etc. If you’re an administrator, take a moment to write notes like this to your staff. It’ll make a difference, I promise. And who knows? You may find your note stuck to a computer monitor some day down the road. :)
Brent has worked in the field of education as a teacher and administrator for 25 years. He is currently Principal of Alta Murrieta Elementary School in Murrieta, California. Read more about Brent here.
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