Growing up I always heard about the power of words. They can lift people up or tear them down. I remember seeing a thumbnail photo from a friend of mine. Marty was holding up a piece of paper with the words You are special and the hashtag #positivesignthursday.
I sent him a direct message asking what he was doing. He explained to me that he and some of his colleagues go around the school on Thursday with a positive message on a piece of paper. Photographs are taken of students and administration holding the sign up and then shared on social media. Each Thursday after I inquired about this I was tagged in #positivesignthursday photos with Marty and our friend who is another champion of #positivesignthursday, Brian.
I began to reflect on what these photos shared with their global audience.
- The smiles of the students spoke volumes about the pride they felt as they took the photo.
- The administration was building relationships with all students.
- Students felt cared for and important, creating a positive school culture.
- Social media was being used in a positive way.
Taking a cue from Marty and Brian I started #positivesignthursday with my students. Photos were shared on our class social media accounts. Students looked forward to seeing the new sign every Thursday and had the choice to be in the photo. The signs sparked conversations among 5th graders as they discussed what the words meant to them.
Positive messages were created in a Google Doc and printed out. They could have something to do with what was going on in our classroom that week or something happening in the news. It tied our classroom to the world.
On the last Thursday of school students were deeply saddened that it would be their last positive message to share with their audience. I surprised them the following Wednesday (our official last day of school) with a sign that read We are beginning.
Our students’ journey begins when they leave us. I told them I would post the photo on Thursday. No one ever said the pictures had to be taken on a Thursday. As students trickled out of our classroom one last time a student challenged me to keep #positivesignthursday going this summer.
I have taken photos at Google, ISTE, The Red Sox Game, the MIT Labs, and restaurants. My friends often ask if I have the sign with me. It is something we all want to be part of. The other day I received a Facebook message from a friend I used to practice yoga with, Katherine. She now teaches. She told me she was meeting with her principal, and he happened to switch screens. She then tells me that the recent picture of me with Wally, the Red Sox mascot, was on their SMARTboard screen as her principal follows the hashtag. She teaches in Hawaii!
#Positivesignthursday has made an impact not only on my students but also people watching around the globe. It models for students the power of choosing kind words and spreading them like water. This also shows how social media can be used for good. I cannot thank Marty and Brian enough for inspiring me to join them. I hope you will join us this year sharing #positivesignthursday messages with your students! Together we can lift each other up!