Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Accentuate the Positive

In John: Where’d All the Good People Go? John asks,

positives“…could you share some of your successes, big and small, in the comment section to help some teachers struggling to find the positives in our profession?”

Well, I didn’t share this with John in the comment section because I tend to be wordy (who would have thought!). I thought I would share my thoughts here.

First of all, I don’t think I can depend on others to find the positives I need to keep going. I have to look for them myself and squirrel them away for a rainy day. Just thinking positive thoughts wasn’t enough for me even though it helped.

John had a great idea of keeping a journal which I did the first year. I kept a daily notebook and wrote about each student every day. It was really wonderful to go back years later and read this notebook. Not only did I see my own teaching practices in a different light, but I was able to see how much I had grown and take satisfaction in that. I have started keeping a Joy journal and writing down each day the things that bring me joy. When I am feeling down or discouraged, it is fun to read this journal.

Another thing I did was keep in close contact with the parents of my students. I called them every 2 weeks or so, which helped keep the phone calls short and sweet. By calling often, I established a wonderful rapport with many of the parents and they appreciated me for keeping in touch. Many of them would tell me how much this meant to them. When I was feeling discouraged or frustrated, I would call some parents to brag about their child’s work, behavior, and/or general attitude. This always thrilled the parents and worked as a pick-me-up for me and I always felt better after these calls.

I developed a few hobbies such as hiking and gardening. This really helped relieve a lot of stress as well as took my mind off my classroom. My husband could tell you that he thought I had my classroom on my mind 24/7 and would constantly talk about how whatever we were doing and how I could use it in the classroom. All during the summer, I was thinking about new lessons and things that would make my classroom better. Having hobbies helped me decompress and give my mind time to relax and take a break.

I also like trying to improve my teaching practices every year by researching current trends and new strategies that are being used. This involved attending conferences and training sessions during my personal time. When possible, I would ask colleagues if I could observe them to learn something that they were doing that seemed special. Many were flattered and allowed me to do this. I tried to avoid getting in a rut and teaching the same way every year and doing the same things over and over (because let’s face it, it is easier and not much work is involved). I would read magazines, watching educational podcasts, and even developed a personal learning network online. Connecting with others and sharing ideas and strategies is truly energizing!

Facing the reality that being a teacher isn’t going to be happy and fabulous all of the time also helps. Like anything in life, there will be ups and downs. Talking (or ranting) about the down times with a colleague helps me but then I need to let it go. I can’t harp on it constantly every day and let it consume my life or there won’t be any room for the “ups” to come in. I have to admit that I will make mistakes, I don’t know everything, and I can’t be perfect no matter how hard I try but I can learn from my mistakes, learn more every day, and try to be better each day. In the same respect, I have to see other people in the same light and not expect others to be error-free, know everything, and be perfect.

So, how do you find the positives in your profession? Please share!

Image: 'Explosion of positive energy'
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