One thing that I always try to pride myself on as a teacher (and as a person) is staying positive. In fact, one time a student told me, “The more boring the topic, Mrs. Veise, the more excited you are!” Um, yeah. Guilty. I will get happy, jump-up-and-down excited for the most boring of topics, including grammar (for more about how I make grammar interesting, see this post). If you pretend it’s fun for long enough, soon you ARE having fun without even realizing it.
I really try to emphasize this positivity and excitement for my students as well, building a positive classroom community. Using daily whiteboard prompts (follow my instagram to see some examples!), I often push my students to look for the best part of themselves and others. We also work on having a growth mindset in our classroom daily.
BUT. This year is testing my positivity because I have got some major Debbie Downers. These students haven’t bought into my sunshiny attitude yet. Luckily, I still have a few more tricks up my sleeve.
One of these tricks is Secret Positivity Pals (SPP). The best thing about SPPs is that it requires very little effort from you!
Here’s how it works:
1) Decide how to pair your students. You can match students up, or have them randomly draw names from a hat. Depending on my class, sometimes I like to assign pals so I know that students aren’t with their bff and so I can match someone extra nice with a student who has difficulties socializing. Each student will be matched with a different person. For example, Allie might have Tyler, Tyler would have Ryan, Ryan would have Megan, and so on.
2) Introduce SPPs to your class. There are only two really important parts of this. It’s SECRET and POSITIVE. I like to tell my students that I’m giving them a special mission to spread positivity throughout our class. We brainstorm ways we can brighten our SPP’s day- write them a note, draw/color them a picture, ask them to play at recess, give them an extra smile, and greet them in the morning when they come in the classroom. All without letting on that you’re their SPP, of course! We talk about how they can keep it secret- sometimes by having another friend write a note for them, or even get a parent or sibling to help out with the notes or pictures.
3) Assign tasks to your students. Worried some of your students won’t know what to do, or follow through with their role? During our month-long challenge, I like to encourage my students to do 1-2 extra kind acts for their pal. Each week, I give them a challenge task card for what they can do sometime during the week. Grab a free set of SPP task cards here. These can be handed out once a week to guide students for what they need to do.
After the end of the time period of SPPs, have students reveal themselves. I like to do this in a community meeting. Students are often pleasantly surprised by who has been brightening their day!
Have you used secret pals before? What else have you done to spread positivity in your classroom?
I’m Cait, from Cait’s Cool School. I’m in my seventh year of teaching, my sixth year in 4th grade! I love building a positive community culture in my classroom and sharing my ideas with others. Check out my blog caitscoolschool.blogspot.com for more fun ideas.