changing schools one roll of masking tape at a time

The first time I told my students we were going to do drive-bys in class, I was greeted with wide eyes and gaping mouths. I mean, WHAT was their crazy English teacher suggesting? This was way past the usual insanity!

But really, it wasn’t. 

It was one of those creative, strike you in the teaching moment rarities that only teachers (and desperate parents) can understand. 

We needed a brain break. You see, I teach by the rule of 15. We move, change, or adjust every 15 minutes to keep our class (and me, frankly) alive and engaged. 

I tend to love using everyday, unusual items to inspire innovation in my high school kids. I’ve used huge rolls of bubble wrap, play-doh, Legos, you name it, I’ve tried it. That day, it was a simple roll of masking tape. 

The students watched incredulously as I gave each of them a two foot strip of tape. The instructions were this:

1. You will write specific (not general) compliments for your classmates on the tape

2. No jokes, sarcasm, or “inside information”

3. Start with the classmates closest to you

4. Make sure to include everyone

5. “Drive-by” and stick the ripped pieces of compliments on classmates’ backs (not hair or faces – that can hurt)

Then, I turned on the music and cut them loose. 

It was beautiful mayhem. 

The students wrote sweet words, encouraging quotes, and generous compliments over and over. The chaos was organized and crazy all at once. Backs were covered in slices of sticky tape and smiles were everywhere. 

At the end of the 5 minutes, students helped one another remove their “gifts”. Kids stuck them on their binders, their planners, and their notebooks. But they kept them ALL.

It was meaningful, it was relevant, and it made our classroom safe. In the place we call high school, there are too many badsad words (badsad is really bad and sad all at once). These kids (YES, high school kids) need good words. From unexpected places. 

Now, they BEG me for drive-bys. And we don’t  do them often because it would ruin the expectancy. But it creates an atmosphere that encourages RISK because they begin to TRUST. Not just me, but one another. 

Next time you see your students’ (or kids’, or youth groups’ or even families’) eyes rolling to the backs of their heads, pull out a roll of masking tape. 

It’s time for a drive-by. 

For more insane ideas like this one, check out my post 50 brain breaks. You can also check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store

My dear friend did drive-by encouragements with her school staff! Check out the photo below!!