Teachers don't always get the credit they are due, so it's gratifying to see when that happens on a widespread scale. And for one Mrs. Langford at Evergreen Avenue Elementary in Woodbury, New Jersey — a teacher who left encouraging notes (and donut holes!) on her nervous students' desk tops before a big test — the sheer scope of appreciation she's now experiencing likely came as a bit of a surprise. Her thoughtful gesture has gone viral, garnering over 17,000 likes and 19,000 shares on social media.
The photos were shared by Woodbury City Public Schools, for whom Langford teaches fifth grade, and it's easy to see why her employers were so proud. Langford found a way to make her students feel invincible at a time when many students can't help but cave under the mounting pressure to perform well. The inspirational messages, which the city points out were written in dry erase marker and easily wiped away, did the seemingly impossible: make students look forward to taking a test. She did so by sharing genuine and individualized maxims such as "Learning is your superpower!" and "There is no elevator to success; you must take the stairs!"
According to the Associated Press, Langford said of the idea she stumbled across on Pinterest: "A lot of my kids were nervous that if they don't pass this test with good scores, they won't go to the next grade. They feel a lot of anxiety about that. I thought this would be a cute thing for them to walk in to." Um, can I go back in time and have her as a teacher, too?
Not only is Langford now being flooding with messages of gratitude and support by parents and non-parents alike from all over the country, but she is also providing an important reminder of the countless teachers who put so much care and devotion into educating our youth. Their hours are long and their efforts are often thankless, yet they continue to come up with new and innovative ways to make learning fun — often spending money from their own pockets to do so. For that, they all deserve the kind of praise Langford is now on the receiving end of. Shout-out to this incredible teacher for helping to bring such behavior to light.
As for how effective her messages were, well, very if you ask her students. "When I read the message, my fear went away," said student Julissa Gomez. "I knew I could actually do it." And it looks like science backs the play as well. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Words of encouragement are like your favorite sports coach
We all know how empowering it is to have a sports coach tell you to get in the game and score that winning goal, right? The same theory applies to words of encouragement, says psychologist and motivational expert Jonathan Fader, Ph.D., who explained to Fast Company, "There's a little bit of implicit coaching that's happening when you're reading it. It's building that self-efficacy in that kind of dialogue that you're having with yourself."
2. Positive affirmations can curtail the damaging effects of stress
Research out of Carnegie Mellon University shows that positive affirmations enhance problem-solving performance because they create a sort of "psychological immune system" that shuts down negative thoughts. In a word, neat-o, right?
3. Motivational quotes can re-hardwire your brain for the better
According to author and speaker Caroline Miller, inspirational messages and words can actually train your brain to think the proverbial glass is half full. "Under stress, our brain defaults to its most common setting," she told Yahoo! Health. "But if we practice reinforcing something positive — like the affirmation 'You can do this' — in stressful situations, we can learn to default to a place of positive self-regard."
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