Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Positivity is a Powerful Tool

Last Friday, I blogged about my 2nd year teacher meeting...in which the topic of discussion was positivity.  Or simply being more positive.  Focusing on good, and not allowing the negativity to take over and dominate.

Since that meeting, I've tried very hard to apply that message in to my classroom.  

Friday, I was the poster child for positivity.  Praising my students, encouraging them, thanking them for working hard, etc.  And it paid off, being that for the first time since school started my ENTIRE class passed both their reading and science tests.  The kids were rewarded for their hard work with some extra recess time.

Yesterday, they came back to school after their weekend remembering that gesture.  And it meant a lot to me to hear the comments about how they would, once again, work hard, pass their tests, and earn themselves some extra recess.  

And they also picked up on the fact that something wasn't right with me.  I was not my bouncy, full of Monday-joy self.  

Which was true.  Kids are very intuitive when it comes to stuff like that.  They can pick up on emotional changes.  None of them asked me what was wrong, but I was met with several hugs, and they really focused on being quiet when they came in and got straight to work without being reminded to do so.  

Before school even started, I spoke to my team members.  Told them that I was troubled, and feeling down.  They offered their words of support and guidance...and my Mama Bear team member said a prayer with me.  It made me feel a lot better, emotionally.  Like weight was physically being lifted off my shoulders.  She gave me a big hug, told me everything would be OK, and my day started.

A little while later, I was able to talk to Mrs. P and get the situation taken care of that was troubling me.  I'll be honest, I really didn't expect it to go the way it did.  I mean, even though I knew I did absolutely nothing wrong... I felt like maybe I had made a mistake.  Or maybe I shouldn't have gone out on a limb for someone, offered to do what I thought was a nice thing.  That my mistake was just trying to be nice.

But, I found out - or should I say reinforced - that I did NOT make a mistake, and there was absolutely nothing wrong with trying to help someone out.  Mrs. P supported me, reassured me, and really drove home how much she cares for her students and her teachers.  She was there for me when I needed her.  And not only did I get to leave her office feeling better about the situation, but it drove another nail in to very long list of reasons why I work in the best freakin' school EVER!

I have no idea how any other principal would have handled the situation.  I can't sit here and say that my principal is the only one out there that would do what she did.  But, to hear the words she said to me, about me, sent a surge of warmth through my heart.  There is no other school I'd rather be in.  Period.  

Money doesn't matter.  Distance doesn't matter.  I hit the jackpot when she offered me my job a little over a year and a half ago....and I am reminded of that almost every, single day.  With the people I work with, the students that I come in to contact with, and the administration that truly show me I am a valued member of their team.

Walking out of her office, I was able to leave my negative feelings and stress behind.  I made sure that the rest of the day, I focused on the positive.  I, again, spent the day encouraging my students, praising them for their hard work, and the whole day went by smoothly.  It was another great day of learning in my room.

I have never really considered myself a pessimist.  I'm usually a pretty optimistic person.  I sometimes, though, let negative feelings take over when things aren't going the way I expect them to.  Or, I get frustrated when stuff starts getting out of control, or I can't figure out what I'm doing wrong.  What I've learned in a few short days, however, is that a little positivity goes a very long way.  Everything may not work out the way I expect it to, I can't control every outcome.  What I can do is embrace the good that is taking place, and let the negative slip by me.  Not let it in.  Ignore it.

I know that life can't be rainbows and hummingbirds all the time.  There will be days where I want to pull my hair out, scream from the top of my lungs, and curl up under my desk in a fetal position.  But, on the days where I don't feel like doing any of those things should be embraced as a good day.  And I know that as long as I'm fleeting around my room like I'm sliding down rainbows and followed by hummingbirds, my kids are feeling the same way.  When I'm happy, they're happy.  When I'm encouraging them and praising them, they are working harder to get that encouragement and praise.  

When I'm stressed, they're stressed.  When I'm grumpy and moody, they're not focusing on working their best.  They're just ready for their day to be over, so they can get as far away from me as possible. And why on earth would I want a classroom running that way?

What I'm quickly learning this year is balance.  Weighing out the good versus the stressful.  What do I let impact my day?  What battles do I choose to face head on or choose to ignore?  And what I'm finding out is that at the end of every question, there's a positive spin that can be applied.

Got a class full of kids that can't behave during their specials classes?  OK.  I tried taking recess time away.  I tried yelling.  I tried the disappointment spill.  Nothing worked.  One day, I tell them that each specials teacher will select two students EVERY DAY to receive a homework pass for good behavior, and voila!  No more behavior issues.

Got a class that no matter how much I prepare them and study with them and direct them where to go for answers, still fail their tests?  OK.  I tried yelling.  I tried sending failed tests home to parents.  I tried the disappointment spill.  Nothing worked.  One day, I tell them how appreciative I am of the hard work they've put in that week, how hard they've prepared for the test.. and voila!  An entire class passes a test.  Then, throw in that they're going to earn some extra recess time for said passed test, and they blow me away by not only passing but making ALL A's and B's on another test the same day.

Got a class that no matter how many times I remind them to take home their books and papers at the end of the day still doesn't finish their homework?  Yeah...that's my next victim.  That's my focus and test subject for this week.  Rather than yell or take recess time away, I've made a pretty planner sheet for them.  I've given them all of their work that will be expected for the entire week, complete with deadlines.  I've told them that they'll have time to work on ALL of it during the week in class.  I've promised no rewards, no incentives.  Just reminded them that hard work pays off in the end...and we're going to see what happens this week.

I'm going to stay positive that it's going to be a good week for getting work turned in.  

We shall see.

But, this morning, I'm feeling good.  I'm excited to get back in to my classroom.  Great stuff is happening, and I want to keep that momentum going.

Have a wonderful Tuesday!!


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