Post-it birthday ritual: Everything is an opportunity for design

On your birthday, peers and teachers write down what they appreciate about you on post-its, stick them to your shirt, and read them aloud.

Photo of Deirdre Cerminaro
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Brightworks School in San Francisco has a birthday ritual that goes far beyond singing "Happy Birthday" slightly off-key.

Here's how it works:

1. The birthday boy or girl sits (quietly) in the middle of the circle.

2. Peers and teachers write down what they appreciate about them on post-its.

3. Everyone walks up and sticks their post-it(s) onto the birthday boy or girl.

4. Once the student is covered in post-its, teachers take turns reading every single post-it out loud.

Here's why it's awesome:

1. Students learn to be reflective, to think about what each person brings to the table. 

2. Students to be open learn to share what they think with others, to give and listen to feedback. 

3. Students learn to be iterative and generative. (Ideas aren't precious, but people are.)

These are all mindsets that help to establish a culture of innovation, even with something simple, like a birthday ritual, that you might not otherwise think of as an opportunity for design. 


4. It's a genuinely fun and heart-warming experience.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Ellen Deutscher

This is a great activity! Like Moss, I have done similar activities around gratitude, students' strengths, appreciation, etc. I try to do this somewhat regularly so that being comfortable with this is built into the culture. I see huge connections between SEL and DT/innovation mindsets.

Photo of Moss Pike

Absolutely love this idea, Deirdre; thanks for sharing it! I've tried doing similar experiments with my kids, e.g., a weekly gratitude practice where we share something we're grateful for or something that went well during the week. More than ever, I see social and emotional skills as critical building blocks for strong community and think that we need to keep them in mind, whenever we're talking about culture. How might we ground our daily rituals in SEL?

Photo of Brett Brownell

Amazing! I love this idea. Thanks for sharing Deirdre! Makes me wonder if you know any Brightworks teachers would might want to contribute to the challenge or expand on this?