The Whiteboard

Give and Take Bulletin Board: Creatively Ministering to Students

As Christian educators, we are uniquely equipped to provide our students examples of the love, patience, and hope of God.

As a public school teacher, I know students need to be reminded on a daily basis that they are cared for and loved. I may not always know or understand what my students are dealing with, but I know they all have bad days and feel down at times. I have learned that a little encouragement can go a long way in the classroom. However, not many students are willing to just walk up to an adult and say, “I’m feeling a little down. Can you give me some inspiration?” or “My patience is at an all time low. Help me.” 

So, for the upcoming school year, I made it my mission to find new, creative ways to encourage my students and positively influence the climate and culture of my classroom. When looking around my space, I realized that the large bulletin board hanging just outside my classroom needed a face-lift, and it was my responsibility to keep it looking nice. Now, full disclosure, I have a “strong dislike” for making bulletin boards. Therefore, this daunting task did not excite me until I realized the dreaded bulletin board could be used to minister to my students, providing them the encouragement I knew they so desperately needed. 

I started scouring Pinterest for bulletin board ideas and landed on one with “Take What You Need” at the top. The rest of the bulletin board was covered with sticky notes inscribed with positive messages. For example, one said, “You’ve got this.” Another said, “Breathe.” Some simply had smiling faces drawn on them.

The concept behind the board is simple: if students are having a bad day, they can take one of the inspiring messages to help them get through their struggles. 

I really liked this idea, so I created a “Take What You Need” bulletin board display of my own, modeled after the Pinterest example. The display looked great and had a noble purpose. However, I spent the entire school year picking up sticky notes that had fallen onto the floor. Seriously. An entire year. Despite this annoying problem, I noticed that students were taking notes with them, almost daily. Clearly, the endeavor seemed to have potential. It just needed a little refinement.

With this in mind, I came up with a plan for the following year. First, I thought about the types of encouragement my students needed the most. I landed on the following themes: hope, confidence, love, kindness, faith, patience, self-control, humility, and peace. I made an envelope for each, and then searched for quotes that would convey support and encouragement. I picked some different quotes for each characteristic, copied them into a table, picked some fun fonts for each, and hit print. Then I cut those bad boys apart and stuck them in the appropriate envelope. 

I also thought it might be fun to not only have kids think about what they can take or need, but also what they can do to help others; so, I dedicated the other half of the board to “Give What You Can.” There I posted some small ideas that students could do for others such as “Sit with someone new at lunch” or “Carry someone else’s books to class.” I also included a few blank cards for students to write their own ideas.

Has this impacted my classroom? I believe it has.

In all honesty, the “Give What You Can” side of the board has barely been touched. But maybe, just maybe, a few kiddos are reading it and at least in the back of their minds thinking about how they can help someone else. However, students do take encouraging cards on a regular basis. I’ve even had former students return on occasion to grab a quote to get them through the day. 

Interestingly enough, I found that the envelopes needing to be replenished the most are love, patience, and hope. As Christian educators, we are uniquely equipped to provide our students examples of the love, patience, and hope of God. There are so many ways to accomplish this . . . I just happen to use my bulletin board to do so.

Dr. Rachel Rosales teaches mathematics and serves as an instructional coach at Apollo High School in Owensboro, Kentucky. You can follow her on Twitter @rachelrosales and her blog Purple Pronto Pups.


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