May 26 Day 79: Staying Positive

I thought the first day back after a three day weekend might be challenging for me and my students. As predicted, energy and attendance was low. To inject positivity, I asked for help with the following Google slide:

Students were asked to share motivational thoughts, quotes, or memes. Not everyone participated but it brightened my spirits and I hope theirs.

My contribution is in row 1, column 1. But I was really moved by the entry in row 1 column 2. Some may recognize the inscription from the Hopkins Memorial Gate in Williamstown, MA. It came from someone who has been my student for two consecutive quarters.

Last winter, in the “before”, I distributed positive affirmations to my Calculus II students before starting an exam. Here is a sample from the affirmation deck:

Students randomly selected an index card from the prewritten affirmations and placed it face up as they took the test. The energy in the room changed for the better and anecdotally, many students got exactly the affirmation they needed. “Climb high. Climb Far…” was her affirmation from that day. She saved it, typed it in the Google doc, and showed the original card still in her possession after almost 4 months.

The impact of seemingly small positive gestures cannot be underestimated. Now the question weighing on my mind is “how to reproduce this activity in a virtual classroom?” I’m open to suggestions.

Published by Jenny Quinn

Mathematician. Mother. Wife. Leader. I am a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. Mother of Anson and Zachary. Wife to Mark. President of the Mathematical Association of America.

One thought on “May 26 Day 79: Staying Positive

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