Guest blog by: Michelle Howell, Librarian/Media Specialist for Union Elementary STEAM and Demonstration School in Gallatin, TN

As a librarian, I encounter every learner in my school on a weekly basis. I keep my lessons fun and the atmosphere in the library is positive. I encourage the learners at my school to read – obviously – and I also encourage them to make things, experiment with coding and robotics, and explore different activities to find things in which they are interested. There is a lot that happens every day, and I want to help ensure that my learners not only get academic support from me, but also the social and emotional support that they need to grow and develop as successful learners.

As I talk with the learners in my building, I try to get to know them as fellow human beings. With a bit over 500, however, that can be challenging. I have been looking for a way to uplift the young people I work with when I see they are having a tough day, to celebrate the successes that they have, and just to generally encourage them to keep trying their best at all times, no matter what that looks like for them.

Enter my friend, Kristina Holzweiss, a librarian I connected with while she was writing the book “Hacking School Libraries.” I saw her post about Inspired Minds and how she uses their products at her school, and I knew this is how I wanted to encourage my learners!

My plan is relatively simple. I will use the Inspired Minds hand-off cards within my building as encouragement, praise, and confidence boosters, simply signing the back with You Matter. Just a quiet note letting learners know that they are seen and they are loved. The second part of the plan is to get the booster sets, and to choose learners from each grade each week, take their pictures, and share them with our school family via our Facebook page and also on Twitter, and Instagram. As a bonus, each picture will be printed and framed and sent home to their families. 

I am truly excited to use these fabulous SEL tools with the learners at my school! I believe they will be a wonderful addition to our school!