Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Power of the Post-it® Note

I recently encountered a unique situation when I peeled the last Post-it® Note away from its packaging.  After putting it to good use, I calmly walked over to the closet, in an attempt to replenish my supply, when I was forced to acknowledge the fact that the cupboard was bare!

After overcoming my initial shock and adding "Post-it® Notes" to the grocery list, I took a few moments to consider the question:  What was pre-Post-it® life like?  I am old enough to recall my father leaving phone messages on the counter, which inevitably "blew away"; friends taping notes to my locker, leaving behind a sticky mess; a traditional bookmark becoming dislodged from a carelessly tossed novel, wreaking havoc with my reading flow; and using notebook paper for brainstorming sessions, leaving me bound by the order of my thoughts or shackled to the grueling process of recopying my reorganized ideas -- How did we function in a Post-it® free world?

Returning to my desk and surveying my surroundings, I suddenly realize that I'm swimming in a sea of Post-its®!  Several mark lesson ideas in resources on my shelves; my husband has left me a note on a Post-it®, which dutifully clings to my computer screen awaiting deciphering; a scrunched up Post-it® is wedged in a corner by the filing cabinet, evidence of my cat's lack of perseverance; a Post-it® has replaced the traditional check register, documenting spending until I take the time to access my online bank; and a number of Post-its® peek out from a packet I received at a recent training, increasing the likelihood that I will refer back to these materials at some point this decade.  As my mind registers the presence of the numerous Post-its® in my immediate vicinity, I begin to marvel at their power.  

It seems as though the Post-it® Note was destined for power from the outset -- its advent being an example of serendipity at its finest.  A mistake (whose value was not immediately recognized) yielding an infinite number of applications.  How could an entity with such a backstory not achieve greatness?

In addition to their origin, Post-it® Notes also derive power from their essence.  By their very nature, Post-it® Notes improve functionality at a low cost.  This functionality is impacted by their versatility.  In a classroom, one sticky has the potential of serving an infinite number of purposes:  Informal assessments, data collection, class surveys, brainstorming tools, collaborative aides, bookmarks, placeholders, a convenient way record a thought or make a label, the possibilities are endless…

Brainstorming at Stanford's d.School
I suddenly realize that, during my education and over the course of my professional career, I have not sat through one minute of Post-it® Note training.  No entity for which I have worked has crafted an acceptable usage policy for Post-its®.  No one has ever required me to read through a terms of service agreement before purchasing or using Post-it® Notes – and therein lies yet another inherent source of power, their ease of deployment.  Functional, versatile, easy to implement, no training time or costs, could Post-it® Notes be the ultimate user friendly tool?

As I move to discard the final piece of packaging, I am struck by the irony.  This product, whose adhesive nature is minimal, has found an enduring place in my world.  Simplicity of design yields an infinite number of applications.  Scraps of paper, revolutionizing the world.  The Post-it® Note, I surmise, is one of those entities whose presence has become so ingrained in our way of life that it nearly always goes unnoticed until its absence commands our attention.  These realizations inspire me to pay hommage to the Post-it® in this blog.  Its power, derived from its origin, essence, and invisibility, raises its status, in my mind, to that of superhero.  I invite you to join me as I chant:  All hail the Post-it® Note!  What would we do without you?

by: Courtney Cadwell, STEM Instructional Coach, @CourtneyCadwell


  1. I hear that the post-it can also be used to cover the automatic flush sensor on the toilets as school for kids who get anxious about it. Smart teachers over at Santa Rita coming up with innovative solutions.

  2. Congratulations ccadwell! Thank you so much for taking the time to share this exciting information.

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