By PAM SCHIFF Tucked away downstairs at Oaklawn elementary school, the fifth grade students have created a special wall. They have taken words of positivity, confidence, pride, accountability and other inspiring messages to share with the school. "This
Tucked away downstairs at Oaklawn elementary school, the fifth grade students have created a special wall. They have taken words of positivity, confidence, pride, accountability and other inspiring messages to share with the school.
"This year in fifth grade, we have been learning about the importance of positive self-talk and how to change our mindset. Being kind to yourself and others is very important. You can always use kindness to make friends but you should also be positive about yourself," said fifth grade teacher, Theresa Vessella.
To help with positive self awareness, they created a wall with sunflowers in the hallway near the classroom. The petals of the sunflower have positive sayings to help them feel better. When someone feels down or upset, they can go stand at the wall, look in the mirror, and say some of the positive quotes to themselves.
" We discussed how having a positive attitude will help you perform better in school. One way to achieve this is to use positive self-talk. We came up with sayings like, “never give up”, “you can do this”, and “you're the best” as ways to help us become more confident in ourselves," said Vessella.
A letter was sent to the entire Oaklawn Community announcing the wall, and the hopes the messages carried.
"We also wanted to share what we have learned with the whole school. The fifth grade welcomes every class to come downstairs to see our positivity sunflowers and use it when they need it. Whether it is individual students, a group of students, the whole class or a teacher, please visit the positivity wall. Look in the mirror and say some of the positive phrases. It will certainly help to make you feel better and brighten your day. When you have a positive mindset, you are able to accomplish great things," Vessella wrote in the letter.
Vessella, and her colleague and fifth grade partner, Jennifer Scappaticci developed the wall as a way to help cheer up the students. Many of them were nervous about being back in the school building after being out for so long.
"We told them the wall is about them. Self love, self awareness, self esteem. The wall is meant for good vibes," Vessella said.
The wall was constructed over a few days, with the teachers cutting out the sunflowers, and the students actually giving up recess time of their own volition to stay and help finish the construction.
"The students came up with all the messages themselves; believing, awesome, don't give up, by yourself and you can do it, are just a few," Vessella said.
The students took turns reading from their workbooks about what positivity means to them, and how they find positive things in everyday life and school and home.
All of the students raised their hands when asked if they have used the wall themselves to get a much needed boost.
"The students all know this is a safe space, they have a sense of community. It has raised their confidence levels and has motivated them to think of others," Vessella said.
The messages from the wall have found their way into the childrens' homes as well. Several of the students said they have helped more at home, and offered kind and uplifting words to their families if needed.
"The students love our positivity wall. They love seeing themselves and being reminded to think of all that is great about themselves. Often conversations take place within the classroom where students share their special gifts, talents and insights with others," said Jim Zanfini, Oaklawn Principal.
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