Put This Into Practice

Impact With Affirmation

Objective:

Students will understand the importance of encouraging one another with their written words. They will learn to affect their school climate with positivity and inspiration.

Materials:

  • Blank stationary or construction paper for students to cut out (two to three sheets per student)
  • Writing utensil and/or colored markers
  • Mug or container to hold folded slips of paper

Time Required:

Twenty minutes or more. This time is dependent upon how many different letters of affirmation you require your students to write. You will also need 15 minutes of prep time for this activity.

Procedure:

(Note: This activity can be used any time during the school year, so long as community and trust have been established within your group. )

  1. Prior to the activity, print out two copies of your member roster. Cut out each of the names and fold them. Then place the folded slips of paper into a container.
  2. Discussion:
    • Ask your members if they’ve ever received a handwritten letter or card. Allow those who have to share what it feels like to have another person take the time to actually write down words of affirmation.
    • Ask students to discuss why handwritten notes aren’t something done very often in our current culture. Some answers may include time, embarrassment, lack of resources, lack of need due to social media, etc. Then challenge the students to consider whether the reward of personally encouraging someone is worth the cost.
  3. Pass out the paper to each student. Have students draw out one or two names from the container you prepared earlier.
  4. Instruct students to write two to three sentences of encouragement on each piece of paper for the names they drew from the container. Encourage members to use affirmations that are more than surface compliments of the person to whom they’re writing.
  5. If time permits, you may also want to instruct students to choose a teacher on their campus they would like to encourage.
  6. Collect student letters and deliver accordingly. You may want to consider passing them out in the next meeting.
  7. As a consideration, you may want to preview the letters for content before delivering.

Processing:

  1. After students have written their affirmations, have them share how they feel. Speak about the paradox of feeling encouraged after encouraging others. Ask students to also share any difficulties they had in writing their notes.
  2. Once students have received their letters of affirmation, have them share the impact those letters made on their day. Ask students how handwritten notes can be used to promote a positive environment and a unified school culture. Have students reflect on how handwritten affirmations can become a part of their routine.

Extensions and/or Variations:

  • Personally write a note of affirmation to each of your members as an example.
  • Have students create personal paper bag “mailboxes” to receive written notes of affirmation all year long from fellow members.
  • As an adviser, provide a list of member names to faculty and ask willing teachers and staff to write letters of affirmation to NHS members.
  • Members write one note of affirmation each week for another student outside of the members’ cultural circle. For example, students may affirm individuals they know of different faiths, gender, and race.

Heather Iseminger is a secondary English and LeadWorthy teacher at First Academy Leesburg in Leesburg, FL.