As first seen in a Bored Teachers reel, teachers have been helping students in need of a break by implementing the “nothing notes” strategy. The idea is that when you notice a student is antsy or distractable, you give them a “very important note” to bring to another teacher in the building. This walk to deliver the note serves as a natural break for the student. Additionally, the teacher who is receiving the nothing note is also in-the-know and will understand that this student needs a little pick-me-up when they arrive with the important note. It’s such an easy strategy to implement that is successful for students of all ages.

Here are 5 reasons why teachers are loving nothing notes in their classrooms.

1. Nothing notes are discrete.

Some students may feel embarrassed to be visibly taking an academic break in front of others. It may even feel like they are in trouble. However, students often feel special when asked to go on a nothing-note errand and receive a natural break without a disruption to learning in the classroom. This is because it nothing notes are discreet and not obvious or distracting to others in the classroom.

2. Students return to the classroom ready to learn.

Prior to taking a nothing note break, students may struggle to focus on and complete tasks at hand. Fortunately, a simple and short walk outside the classroom with a nothing note can support students by helping them stay focused once they return to the classroom.

3. Teachers get a break too!

Let’s be honest, usually, the teacher needs a break as much as the restless student does. While the student is out on their errand, the teacher gets a natural break in the classroom to reset.

4. SEL needs are supported with minimal teacher involvement.

While it is important for students to learn how to verbalize their feelings and when they need a break, a big benefit of nothing notes is that students are the leaders in this type of break. Teachers don’t have to run this break for students or instruct on timing or choices. The nothing note task is given and students are sent on their way while the teacher is free to continue teaching the rest of the class.

5. Nothing notes are an alternative to calm-down corners.

While we certainly love a break spot in the classroom where students can reset and manage their feelings, we also recognize that not all classrooms have the space for this. Additionally, not all teachers have the funding for a successful calm-down corner. Nothing notes are a FREE break that anyone can utilize with ease.

The uses of nothing notes are flexible and diverse. While some teachers may truly send a blank piece of paper as a nothing note with their students, others find creative ways to send students on this errand.

Here are 5 creative ways to use nothing notes in your classroom:

  • Ask your student to get a handful of paper clips from another teacher. The receiving teacher should know that this request indicates that this student is on a break! Hopefully, your student can be hyped up before their walk back to your classroom.
  • Ask students to do the whole school a “favor.” This could be counting how many fish are in the school tank each month or asking teachers if they need a helper to take down bulletin boards in the hallway.
  • Assign your student to ask the main office each day if recess is indoors or outdoors. The secretary should know when your student arrives to ask that the student is on their nothing note break.
  • Team up with other teachers in the building, decide on a color folder, and agree that your students can show up in each other’s classrooms with that color folder as a sign that your student is on break. For example, if your student is ready for a nothing note break, hand them a purple folder with a nothing note inside and ask them to bring it to another teacher. When your student shows up to the other classroom with a purple folder, the receiving teacher will automatically know what’s going on.
  • Ask other adults in the building, like custodians or clerical assistants, if they could use a bit of help for 10 minutes each day (or a certain amount of time each week). Custodians may appreciate help stacking chairs after lunch or help collecting recycling bins once a week.

Teachers can use what they know about their students to appropriately choose how to design their own nothing note strategy successfully. Once implemented, your students who benefit from academic breaks will soon be your most focused in the classroom.

Nothing notes: A trending strategy for kids who need a break