Build a Culture of Appreciation with Affirmation Stations
Posted by Brandy Alexander on August 17, 2021 at 11:11 AM
Brandy Alexander shares how you can use "affirmation stations" to thoughtfully and creatively spread love and appreciation to all of your staff members this year. 💌
hile attending an edCamp in Cypress, Texas, I ventured into a session on building culture. I was looking for ideas that could be applied school-wide but, as the discussion was driven by teachers, many of the ideas concerned building culture at a classroom scale.
When one teacher mentioned "affirmation stations"—a new term to me—I spent most of the rest of the session looking into the topic and stumbled upon a blog post by Rebecca Malmquist that gives a great step-by-step process for incorporating this into classrooms.
In a virtual setting, an affirmation Jamboard could be an alternative.
Affirmation stations are defined spaces specifically for staff or students to receive regular affirmations--in Rebecca's case, "a written encouragement or offer of emotional support and/or praise."
As a member of the campus leadership team, I thought about how I could take this idea back to my campus and make it a school-wide endeavor. It seemed to be perfect timing: Valentine's Day was going to be the following month and I was the head of the Teacher/Student Acknowledgement Committee! I ran the idea of an affirmation station by my fellow committee members, and implementing it together became a major hit for a few reasons I'd love to share with you.
Three reasons affirmation stations are the best!
1) Low cost
We used regular, white, inexpensive envelopes. You can get them from your local dollar store, use the school's supply, or collect together old envelopes (I used envelopes I had saved from ordering postcards from VistaPrint that were the perfect size for the die-cuts). In essence, this project cost us nothing!
Can you think of someone you work with that could use some extra appreciation?
2) Easy to prep
Our committee divided and conquered the responsibilities easily, with limited time required outside of our usual daily schedule. My suggestions for you would be to:
- Assign some teammates to decorate a wall. We used red butcher paper, some die-cut letters, and hand-wrote staff names on the envelopes. Pro-tip: if you have staff names on an Avery labels document, printing those saves even more time!
- Designate 2-3 staff members to cut the hearts on the die-cut machine. We stapled a gallon baggie to the end of the display and continued to fill up the bag when the supply was running low. We also put a pack of pens inside the bag so people could use them on-the-go when heating up their lunch or walking quickly through the lounge.
- Meet up the day before the unveiling for last-minute preparations. We used Outlook appointments to schedule a committee meet-up the day before Valentine's Day. Our intention was to ensure every staff member had at least two messages in their envelope before taking them off the wall and "delivering" the envelopes to the staff boxes. To my amazement, each staff member had at least 3-5 special messages, and most had closer to 10, including our custodial and lunch staff!
3) Inclusive for everyone!
Everyone on our staff list got an envelope. At first, we planned to label one larger envelope for the lunchroom staff and one larger envelope for the custodial staff, but we wanted everyone to feel personally included. Therefore, we hand-wrote an envelope for every - single - staff member. One of my extraordinary Spanish-speaking friends even made sure to write messages in Spanish to all of our Spanish-only staff members. How thoughtful is that?
You don't have to wait until Valentine's Day; affirmation stations spread kindness across the school any week of the year. In fact, it's an excellent way to start the year off on the right foot.
This simple idea ended up being a really great day for almost everyone I talked to. So, if you're looking for an inexpensive way to create some positive vibes in your classroom, school, or organization I highly suggest an affirmation station!
Still hesitant to create your affirmation station? Maybe the positive feedback from Brandy's peers can help sway your decision.
About our Guest Blogger
Brandy Alexander is a Texas Home Learning Specialist for the Region IV Education Service Center in the Houston area. She earned her bachelor's degree at the University of North Texas, and her master's in education administration at the University of Texas at Austin. Throughout her education career, she has taught 2nd and 3rd grade, worked in the education policy field, served as a literacy instructional specialist, and was most recently a testing coordinator in the elementary field.
Currently, Brandy presents workshop sessions at national- and state-level conferences and serves as a board member for the Texas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, the West Houston Area Council of Teachers of English, and is the Director of Community Involvement for the Texas Association of Literacy Educators. She's often found with a book, spending her free time at the dog park with her rescue pup Ellie, or traveling the world.
Be sure to connect with Brandy on Twitter at @ReaderLeaderBSA.