Why Your Classroom Needs a Positivity Jar (and How to Start One!)

Why Your Classroom Needs a Positivity Jar (and How to Start One!)

Raise your hand if you’re having trouble being positive this school year. Yeah, me, too. There’s no second-guessing that our students are our favorite part of most school days, but with the extra stress put on teachers this year, sometimes we just need extra incentive to look for the bright side. That’s the whole idea behind a positivity jar!

Why start a positivity jar?

A positivity jar will help the brain focus on what we have and not what we wish we had. The idea is that teachers and students write down one positive thing that happened each school day and place it into a jar. The notes will remind everyone in your class to look for the good.

Positive notes could be something exciting like getting an A on the project they worked so hard for or as simple as having a chocolate chip cookie for lunch. For the teacher, a positive note might be that every student walked into school with a smile on their face one morning. A simple reminder that our STUDENTS. ARE. HAPPY. can be just what we need to get through the week.

It’s an especially helpful practice on those not-so-good school days where the internet is spotty, students are extra wired, and/or admin pops in for an unannounced observation.

So, the question really is… why not start a positivity jar? You’ve got nothing to lose and only lifted spirits to gain!

How to start a positivity jar in your classroom:

1. Decide if you’d like one shared class jar or individual jars for each class member.

The benefit of a shared class jar is that it builds class community. Your class will look forward to pulling slips together and creating a positive vibe as a cohort. Alternatively, smaller individual jars may encourage students to be more detailed or personal in their positive notes to themselves. We suggest asking students how they’d like to run the positivity jar in the classroom and vote on it as a class!

Where to get jars:

  • Dollar Tree
  • Amazon: Small jars and large jars are both available.
  • Recycle jars from your pantry. Take the labels off and run them through the dishwasher.

2. Introduce how the positivity jar works in the classroom

Explain to students the purpose behind it and why it’s important to find positive things in life. Be sure to mention that having “bad days” is ok and this jar is a way to remind ourselves that better days do exist! Take a moment to go over examples of what’s appropriate to write on positive notes that will be placed in the jar. For the first few days, you might choose to write positive notes together as a class before assigning them independently.

3. Choose a set time each day that is used for writing a positive note for the jar.

Some classrooms do “closing meetings” at the end of each school day, which would be an ideal time to take a minute to write a positive note. This could also be done when returning from recess or used as an exit ticket before heading out for dismissal. After a week or so, this should become routine and only take students a minute or so each day.

4. Determine when is an appropriate time to pull positive notes out of the jar.

Discuss with your class how you’ll decide when a piece of positivity is needed. Who gets to decide? When? We suggest giving students some say in when they feel they need positivity. Kids are intuitive and will likely notice when a day feels off or extra stressful. If a student approaches you saying it might be a good time to pull a positive note, you might consider pulling a note or two or three. This may interrupt your math lesson, but it will change the mood of the room for the rest of the day.

If you tend to lean towards more routine-based protocols, you can set a specific time to pull daily or weekly.

5. Make it a classroom job.

You might consider picking a “positivity student of the week” who is in charge of pulling slips from the jar if needed, collecting notes for a shared class jar, and/or is assigned with the task of spreading positive vibes throughout the week. Students will be so excited to have this classroom job!

Teachers who have tried out the Positivity Jar in their classrooms say that it is a wonderful reminder of why they love to be in school. What are you waiting for?!


Why Your Classroom Needs a Positivity Jar (and How to Start One!)

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Jenna Marcal

Veteran Legend

Jenna is a 5th grade teacher in Upstate New York! She loves to cook, dance, and dance while cooking! When she's not taking care of her succulent babies, Jenna can be found grading a stack of papers with one hand and holding a chilled glass of white wine in the other.

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