This summer, my family and I travelled throughout Eastern Canada and the Eastern United States. As always, I was on the lookout for fresh ideas that I could easily implement in my classroom. Imagine my surprise when one of the best ideas I had seen in a long time came from a sweaty, damp hallway in a hockey arena!
My son plays hockey, and while on vacation visiting my family in Prince Edward Island, my husband and I decided that it would be a great idea to send our son to hockey school for a week. Hmmm… spending a week inside a hockey arena while I could be out at Cavendish Beach, walking along the boardwalk in Charlottetown, or sightseeing in Victoria-By-the-Sea wasn’t exactly the fun I had in mind for my vacation but it was a great opportunity for my son to practice the sport he loves… and to burn off some of his excess energy at the same time! And little did I know that I would stumble across a fantastic teaching idea at the same time.
Imagine my surprise when I walked down the stairs to the dressing room on the very first (very early) morning of hockey practice to an amazing display that took my breath away. It was a simple display on the wall called the ” ‘Atta Boy!” Wall. GAME CHANGER… and allow me to explain why!
The concept of the ” ‘Atta Boy!” Wall was so simple in its plain form on the wall but it packed a whole lot of punch for me when I walked by. Flagged by Post-It notes, employees of the hockey school would leave notes for fellow colleagues whenever they wanted to give a note of appreciation or encouragement. Each day of the hockey camp, I noticed more and more Post-Its on the wall and it became something I looked forward to seeing each morning upon my arrival at the arena.
While watching my son do his hockey drills throughout the week, my mind was racing with how I could set up something similar in my school. I changed the name from the ” ‘Atta Boy!” Wall to the “Way to Go!” Wall, used KG Fonts Geronimo Blocks to create my wall display, printed out the letters, laminated them, and drove to my nearest Costco to stock up on Post-It Notes! During the first week of school, I set up the wall in the hallway just outside of my classroom and I have been adding Post-Its ever since. Whenever I see an opportunity to praise a student for great effort, kindness, perseverance, being funny, being helpful, etc… I make a big deal about it, shout out “Way to Go!” and let them know they have found a place on the “Way to Go!” Wall. This practice isn’t limited to just my students… I am on the lookout each and every day for students who are being awesome and more and more teachers and supervisors are adding their own Post-Its for students in our school community. The idea is contagious and I cannot wait to see what our wall will look like at the end of the year.
So, why should you have a “Way to Go” Wall in your classroom/school? Here are the top 3 reasons why…
* By recognizing the positives in our daily classroom lives, no matter how small or how big, we change the climate and culture of our classrooms. Happy teachers = happy students. Happy students = students who love learning. Students who love learning = HAPPY TEACHER HEARTS!
* Everyone needs a pat on the back so BE THAT PERSON who makes a child (or even a co-worker) feel special. Recognition, even in Post-It form, does wonders for a student’s (or staff member’s) self esteem. My students will now take a Post-It over a sticker and for good reason – the Post-Its are personalized and specific to the person they are given to.
* Seeing the Post-Its multiply day after day give students, staff, and parents a reason to smile! It is a visual reminder of all the greatness that is happening in your school… and that, my friends, is a reason to be proud of the great work you are doing with your students.
For the moment, myself and my colleagues are the only ones to fill out Post-Its for the “Way to Go!” Wall but it is in my plans to have parents fill out little notes for their children during Parent/Teacher night and other special activities, and to eventually have the students fill them out when they see other children doing something positive, accomplishing a task, or showing positive behaviour.
If you decide to make a “Way to Go!” Wall or something similar, I would LOVE to see what you come up with! Share your photos or ideas on my Facebook Page HERE!
Have a great (and POSITIVE!!!!) day!