The Ancient Art of Note Passing

A few years ago, I swiped a note as it passed from one first grade girl to another. I was curious. What could first grade girls possibly write about in a note?

I opened the note and immediately questioned my ability to teach writing.  It said, Nst Nst Nst. What? I called the girls over and asked them to read it.  With guilty eyes, they looked at each other, then to me, and in unison started techno rave music singing “nnst nnst nnst.” I bit my tongue to hold back the laughter.

Something recently reminded me of the story as my family sat at the dinner table, and I shared.  I then asked my teenage stepson if he passed notes, and his response was priceless and made me feel old. “Nobody passes notes anymore. We text.” And with the eye roll that preceded his statement, I tried to imagine what texting does to a classroom.

I work with elementary students, and we rarely if ever deal with cellphone drama.  Some colleagues tell me notes are found on occassion, but it is an ancient artform. What I hear from my middle and high school friends is that cellphones are the ultimate evil. I’ve seen videos and TV shows demonstrate speed texting without looking, but I don’t believe it is done in class without being obvious. Really?

So I wonder..

  • What’s your policy on note passing, or is it just texting these days? 
  • Do you even encounter notes anymore thanks to technology? 
  • Are phones taken away? 
  • How often does it occur?

Most importantly,

  • How does it affect your teaching? 

Scarily, I know texting will eventually make it’s way to the elementary classroom, so I appreciate the heads up advice.



Molly Reed

Molly Reed

Tucson, Arizona

My classroom teaching experience has been in Tucson’s urban public schools with grades first through fifth. Beginning my eleventh year of teaching, I am the Outdoor Learning Coordinator at a Project Based Learning primary school. I am a National Board Certified Teacher (ECGen) with a BA in Elementary Education and MA in Teaching and Teacher Education from the University of Arizona.

My introduction to teaching occurred during a National Outdoor Leadership School semester which led me to work as an outdoor educator traveling throughout the United States and South America. I am interested in connecting with other educators and those interested in the changes in schools with education policy.

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