What are the first five words that come to your mind when you hear the word 'school'?
Children, teachers, books, playgrounds, and learning were the first five that came to my mind. Maybe you miraculously thought of the exact same five words as I did, maybe we matched a few, or maybe you came up with five completely different ones. No matter what category you fell into, you have words that you associate with school.
I have visited over 200 schools throughout my professional career and no two schools have felt the same. Whether they are directly across the street from each other, in neighboring communities, or in completely different states, each school has left a unique impression on me.
I enjoy the uniqueness that schools possess. Walking the halls of high schools, the quads of middle schools, and the playgrounds of elementary schools - I typically focus my attention on two things: the kids and the words.
Every time I walk on a school's campus, I look around and smile when I see students interacting with one another and having fun. It's amazing how much you can learn from students just by observing them in their element.
Aside from focusing on the students, I always look for words. I search for those positive affirmations that lie purposefully on a school's campus. Whether it's 'HOPE' made out of children's handprints, 'RESPONSIBILITY' lining the ceiling of the auditorium, or words that inspire possibilities in the cafeteria, I look for those words.
I believe these words can have a profound impact on the youth or adults that reflect on them. When you're having a bad day, just look around and find those positive words to help build you up. Unfortunately, I realize most of these words go unnoticed. We become so focused on completing our task or gossiping with our friends, that we forget to stop and reflect on these small things.
I've always been a huge advocate for living life with a positive mindset. I also am well aware at how difficult this can be at times. Due to this, I purposefully place positive words all throughout my house and life. I have learned that it's important to stop, reflect, and appreciate these words that have the power to lift us up.
I hope that if you get the opportunity to walk on a school's campus in the near future, you enjoy observing those students in their element, but you also search for those words of possibilities that are purposely placed. Maybe they will give you the courage, strength, or motivation you need - to get through your day.