Last year, we had some hiccups with commenting on our public classroom blogs. After one class had published a round of personal reflective essays, I decided to go analog with our feedback, and we wrote notes of appreciation to each other — folded, signed, and hand-delivered.
It was an unexpectedly fabulous day in class, and did a lot to foster community. The writing was different than straight-up thank you notes; instead of showing your gratitude for something given to or done for them specifically, students were applauding something that they had simply observed. In a typing-heavy environment, writing them by hand was novel. And everybody delivering them felt a bit like an elementary school on Valentine’s day — in a good way.
Afterwards, I kicked myself for not grabbing a few cards and joining in. As an English teacher, I write tons of feedback, and never in red pen (or font) — but sometimes I feel like the moments for pure appreciation get away from me, moments of inspiration, resilience, or kindness that are observed but never mentioned. I get caught up in the grind.
So last week I ordered myself a year’s worth of notecards and envelopes. I plan on writing one note a day, every day we are in school, and then delivering it by hand. The goal is to appreciate everybody in the building at least once before the year is over. And some I will photograph and post here as well.
(In case you’re worried, I did the math: this year I teach 130 students, plus 22 advisees, plus 25+ on staff. Thank goodness the school year runs 180 days.)