Sticky Situation

By Andrea Johnston

Walk into my classroom on any given day and you will see on the walls, in the books, in the notebooks, on the laptops, and in the hands of the students, sticky notes. Specifically, Post-its. More specifically, the Rio de Janeiro collection: tropical blue, orange, pink, and yellow in sizes ranging from full-poster to tiny tabs. I am obsessed. I love the feeling of peeling a new note from a pad. The small of the adhesive, the feel of a fresh note ready to be drawn upon. I love the satisfaction of a good Post-it note placement. Nothing beats a perfectly placed tropical yellow note in a text you’ve just highlighted with your tropical yellow Sharpie highlighter. It’s color coding heaven.


In the beginning…

My obsession with Post-it notes started in the fall of 2000. A first year elementary school teacher, my desk was organized beautifully: my daily lessons were neatly printed in my plan book, each subject highlighted a different color and accompanied by a small, yellow, sticky note. An empty void waiting to be filled with quick notes-to-self.  Very quickly my canary-yellow sticky notes took residence in my plan book, the novels I was reading with my students, their novels, their papers, and pages and pages of my own writing. They became interactive bookmarks, fueling my obsessive compulsive nature, designating specific colors for specific reading skills. A monster was born.


In the middle…

Throughout my teaching career, the Post-It has progressed. We now have Post-It easel charts, 22in x 22in squares for collaboration, 5 x 8 pads for quick teaching tips, and the original square pads used to communicate facts, queries, reminders, even the occasional love note. Post-it has taken communication to an entirely new level. Essays are no longer intimidating if you have to synthesize your thinking into a 3 x 3 inch square. Doctors use them to deliver news, parents use them to discipline children, offices use them to organize information, teachers use them as quick ways to collect ideas. Children no longer need to use tape to stick the “kick me” sign onto the backs of their friends. There’s a Post-it note for that. Carrie Bradshaw’s boyfriend even broke up with her via Post-it.


In the end…

A well-written Post-it can deliver an entire message within the confines of four edges. They offer the obsessive, compulsives of the world clear boundaries. These boundaries are great for some, but a cause of extreme stress for others. My more verbose students struggle within the confines of one Post-it note, where others revel in the challenge to summarize complex thinking. In the end though, for me, Post-its are a source of comfort. They’ve never let me down; they are reliable and they get the job done. I will always be loyal to Post-it notes, I’m stuck on them.

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